Categories: Cassini

Treasure Hunt for Cassini Reveals Tiny Moon Atlas

Saturn’s tiny moon Atlas shines with the rings

While most eyes on Earth have been focused on the Red Planet and the eventful landing of the Curiosity Rover, other missions throughout the Solar System are delivering stunning vistas as well, such as this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft of tiny moon Atlas as it shines just above Saturn’s rings.

Can you find it?

Atlas, just 30 kilometers (or 19 miles) across, sits just above the ring plane in this image taken by Cassini’s narrow-angle camera on April 16, 2012 at a distance of 1.4 million kilometers (870,000 miles). At this distance, Atlas appears as a small white dot. Atlas orbits Saturn between the main rings and the thin F ring.

Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2004 and is now in its second extended mission called Cassini Solstice Mission. For the past two years, Cassini cruised in an equatorial orbit flying close over several moons including Titan and studying the planet’s iconic rings. Over the next three years, Cassini will hurtle high above the poles, sending the probe through the ring plane many times.

John Williams is a science writer and owner of TerraZoom, a Colorado-based web development shop specializing in web mapping and online image zooms. He also writes the award-winning blog, StarryCritters, an interactive site devoted to looking at images from NASA’s Great Observatories and other sources in a different way. A former contributing editor for Final Frontier, his work has appeared in the Planetary Society Blog, Air & Space Smithsonian, Astronomy, Earth, MX Developer’s Journal, The Kansas City Star and many other newspapers and magazines.

John Williams

John Williams is owner of TerraZoom, a Colorado-based web development shop specializing in web mapping and online image zooms. He also writes the award-winning blog, StarryCritters, an interactive site devoted to looking at images from NASA's Great Observatories and other sources in a different way. A long-time science writer and space enthusiast, he created award-winning Hubble Star Cards. Use coupon code UNIVERSE to Hold the Universe in your hands. Follow John on Twitter @terrazoom.

Recent Posts

NASA Simulation Shows What Happens When Stars Get Too Close to Black Holes

What happens to a star when it strays too close to a monster black hole?…

7 hours ago

The Parker Solar Probe is getting pelted by hypervelocity dust. Could they damage spacecraft?

There’s a pretty significant disadvantage to going really fast - if you get hit with…

10 hours ago

The Decadal Survey is out! What new Missions and Telescopes are in the Works?

It’s that time again.  Once every ten years, the American astronomy community joins forces through…

10 hours ago

This is a Classic Example of a Reflection Nebula, Where the Reflected Light From Young Hot Stars Illuminates a Protostellar Cloud of Gas and Dust

The interplay of energy and matter creates beautiful sights. Here on Earth, we enjoy rainbows,…

10 hours ago

A Gravitational Lens Shows the Same Galaxy Three Times

Images from the Hubble Space Telescope are often mind-bending in both their beauty and wealth…

16 hours ago

NASA Launches DART, to Learn how to Defend the Earth From a Future Asteroid Impact

NASA's Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) just launched and will intercept a Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA)…

1 day ago