Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2010 March 10
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Saturn's Moon Helene from Cassini

Explanation: What's happening on the surface of Saturn's moon Helene? The moon was imaged in unprecedented detail last week as the robotic Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn swooped to within two Earth diameters of the diminutive moon. Although conventional craters and hills appear, the above raw and unprocessed image also shows terrain that appears unusually smooth and streaked. Planetary astronomers will be inspecting these detailed images of Helene to glean clues about the origin and evolution of the 30-km across floating iceberg. Helene is also unusual because it circles Saturn just ahead of the large moon Dione, making it one of only four known Saturnian moons to occupy a gravitational well known as a stable Lagrange point.

Tomorrow's picture: heading north

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.