Earlier this week, NASA released photos taken in November from the Cassini Spacecraft of Tethys, one of Saturn’s 60+ moons. Using something called greenlight technology and shooting from a distance of 228,000 miles, these brilliant narrow-angle photographs reveal a speckled surface of the distant satellite. The moon measure in at 660 miles across, about the size of Montana, making it Saturn’s fifth largest orbiter. Like so many distant solar system objects, the satellite is believed to be primarily made up of ice and rock. With an average temperature of -305 degrees Fahrenheit, even a tauntaun wouldn’t keep you warm!
All jokes aside, photos of the new moon reveal that it does look like the Death Star. That’s still more flattering than Prometheus, another of Saturn’s moons, which astronomers have said resembles a potato.
Tethys is not geologically active, meaning that impacts are responsible for the moons pockmarked surface. NASA explained that “a large impact not only created a crater known as Odysseus, but the rebound of the impact caused the mountainous peaks, named Scheria Montes, to form in the center of the crater.” Due to the large and centrally located crater, many astronomers are noting that the moon looks strikingly similar to an eyeball.
Photos of this beautiful and distant satellite are just some of the most recent images sent back from Cassini, which embarked on its mission back in October of 1997. Don’t get too attached to the spacecraft though, as its scheduled to plummet into the surface of Saturn later this year when it completes its 20 year journey through our solar system. In the meantime, keep checking out the brilliant images at www.nasa.gov/cassini.