On September 17, 2011, the Cassini orbiter snapped a photograph of Saturn and four of its moons – Dione (located above the rings), Titan (looming in the background), Pandora (to the right of the rings), and Pan. You’ll have to strain your eyes to look at Pan which is a little orb traveling within the Encke Gap inside the rings of Saturn. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
The dozens of icy moons orbiting Saturn vary drastically in shape, size, surface age and origin. Some of these worlds have hard, rough surfaces, while others are porous bodies coated in a fine blanket of icy particles. All have greater or smaller numbers of craters, and many have ridges and valleys.
Some, like Dione and Tethys, show evidence of tectonic activity, where forces from within ripped apart their surfaces.
Many, like Rhea and Tethys, appear to have formed billions of years ago, while others, like Janus and Epimetheus, could have originally been part of larger bodies that broke up.
The study and comparison of these moons tells us a great deal about the history of the Saturn System and of the solar system at large.
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