Five Saturnian moons are clustered around the giant planet's rings in this amazing view from the Cassini orbiter, captured on July 29 from a vantage point just above the ring plane. Rhea, which is poking in from the far right side of the frame, is the moon closest to the camera, at a distance of 684,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers). That moon is 949 miles (1,528 kilometers) across. The smaller moon Mimas looks as if it's edging up right beside Rhea, but it's actually more than 400,000 miles farther away. The bright moon Enceladus, which spouts geysers of water ice, shines above and beyond Saturn's rings.
Fifty-mile-wide Pandora, a shepherd moon and the smallest of the five satellites seen in this picture, is nestled within Saturn's rings, between the A ring and the thin F ring near the middle of the image. The irregular moon Janus is at far left. These five are just a small part of Saturn's huge chorus of 62 known moons.
The bus-sized Cassini probe was launched back in 1997 and has been sending pictures back from Saturn and its moons since 2004, but it's still going strong. For more from the Cassini mission, check out the imaging team's home page, NASA's Cassini website and our own slideshow of the mission's greatest hits. Here's a little bit extra about each of the moons seen in this picture:
- Oxygen-rich atmosphere found on Rhea
- Mimas pictures show the 'Death Star' in detail
- Enceladus' 'rain' creates water on Saturn
- Can you spot Pandora in this picture?
- Janus shows its scars
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