Crescent Rhea viewed by Voyager 1 in November 1980 from 580,000 kilometers. This image includes the only view obtained of the 375-kilometer wide impact basin Tirawa, partially seen near the top of the crescent.


Rhea, the fifth major satellite of Saturn, may be one of the most heavily cratered satellites in the solar system. Its surface appears to be saturated with craters, but long, bright linear features can be seen on the trailing hemisphere and linear ridges can be seen in the leading hemisphere. These ancient features may record changes in Rhea's shape due to internal heating or cooling.

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Distant View of Rhea

Obtained by Voyager 1 in November 1980, this image shows the important features of Rhea. Craters of many sizes are seen, as are a number of bright linear features. They appear to be extensional fractures, and suggest that Rhea has expanded a few percent in size, perhaps due to freezing of water ice in the interior. Similar linear features occur on Dione.

High-resolution View of Rhea

This seven-image mosaic is centered on the north pole of Rhea. The rugged, cratered topography is obvious. Several linear troughs or fractures are also visible, at top and bottom. These were among the highest-resolution images obtained of any icy satellite, with resolutions of about 500 meters (image shown here at 1-kilometer resolution due to large size).

Rhea in 3-D

This stereo view of a portion of Rhea reveals the heavily cratered terrain of this small satellite. No smooth areas can be seen between the innumerable craters. If Rhea ever was volcanically active, this must have occurred very early in its history and any record obliterated by repeat impact cratering.

All images by Paul M. Schenk, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, TX.

©Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1997

Supplemental Reading Materials

Moore J. et al. (1985) Geomorphology of Rhea. Journal of Geophysical Research, 90, C785-C795.