We’re accustomed to seeing photographs of Saturn’s larger moons, like Titan, Dione and Enceladus. Here’s an image of one of its smallest: newly discovered Polydeuces. This moon is only 3 km (2 miles) across, and shares the same orbit as much larger Dione. Cassini took this photo on May 22, 2006 when it was approximately 73,000 kilometers (45,000 miles) away.
This magnified view shows tiny Polydeuces, a moon that was discovered by the Cassini spacecraft and is a mere 3 kilometers (2 miles) across. Along with much larger Helene (32 kilometers, or 20 miles across), Polydeuces orbits Saturn at the same distance as large, icy Dione (1,126 kilometers, or 700 miles across).
Because this body was only recently discovered and is so small, scientists presently know precious little about it. Further observations by Cassini may yield additional insights about its nature and composition.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 22, 2006 at a distance of approximately 73,000 kilometers (45,000 miles) from Polydeuces and at a Sun-Polydeuces-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 41 degrees. The image was obtained using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 752 nanometers. Scale in the original image was 434 meters (1,423 feet) per pixel. The image has been magnified by a factor of four and contrast-enhanced to aid visibility.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Original Source: NASA/JPL/SSI News Release