Home Space Cassini sees huge crater on Saturn’s moon Tethys

Cassini sees huge crater on Saturn’s moon Tethys

MAGE: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SPACE SCIENCE INSTITUTE

By Miriam Kramer, Mashable.com, July 28, 2015 A spacecraft exploring Saturn and its many moons has captured a fantastic new photo of a giant impact basin on Saturn’s moon Tethys.

The huge crater — named Odysseus — looks brighter than the rest of the crescent moon in the new image. It was taken by the Cassini spacecraft on May 9, 2015 at a distance of 186,000 miles from the moon, according to NASA.

“This distinct coloration may result from differences in either the composition or structure of the terrain exposed by the giant impact,” NASA wrote in a press statement.

“Odysseus (280 miles, or 450 kilometers, across) is one of the largest impact craters on Saturn’s icy moons, and may have significantly altered the geologic history of Tethys.”

A crater of those proportions on Earth would be about the size of Russia, NASA said.

The impact that created Odysseus could have destroyed a solid body, according to NASA. That suggests Tethys was “partially molten” when the basin was created by an errant piece of natural space debris.

“The crater’s rim and central peak have largely collapsed, leaving a shallow crater, and this also suggests a terrain that was elastic enough to change shape,” NASA wrote in a Tethys feature.

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