Move Over Caravaggio: Cassini’s Light and Dark Moons
August 18, 2010
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has returned saturnian moon images from its most recent flyby, revealing light and dark contrasts worthy of chiaroscuro painters like Caravaggio.
The flyby on August 13 targeted the geyser moon Enceladus, but also brought Cassini close to two other moons — Tethys and Dione.
The raw images include the best ones to date of Penelope crater on the icy moon Tethys . Penelope crater, which is 150 kilometers (90 miles) wide, is the second-largest crater on Tethys.
Cassini was also able to obtain a portrait of Enceladus over the bright arc of Saturn’s atmosphere and a moody still life of one of the “tiger stripe” fissures — Damascus Sulcus — at the Enceladus south polar region on the cusp of darkness. “Tiger stripe” is the nickname for the fissures spewing water vapor and organic particles out into space. Damascus Sulcus was also the subject of a heat scan by Cassini’s composite infrared spectrometer. Scientists are still analyzing the results.
More raw images from the Enceladus flyby, dubbed “E11,” are available at
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visitCassini: Unlocking Saturn’s Secrets
Last updated August 18, 2010