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NASA Released Stunning Image of Saturn's Wavemaker Moon Daphnis

Jan 24, 2017 11:11 AM EST
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NASA Cassini is still taking photographs of Saturn, its rings, and moons. Recently, the agency released some images of Saturn's moon Daphnis, a popular moon due to the waves it creates on the planet's ring.

Cassini just flew near Daphnis, also called the "wavemaker" moon. The close approach allowed scientists to further examine the moon with unprecedented detail.

The small Saturn satellite is only about five miles (eight kilometers) in diameter, according to a report. The moon makes its orbit within the Keeler Gap inside Saturn's A ring.

The moon's gravity causes some waves to appear on the edges of the ring. Cassini took the latest image last Jan. 16. This is monumental for NASA since it is the most detailed photograph of the moon yet.

"Like a couple of Saturn's other small ring moons, Atlas and Pan, Daphnis appears to have a narrow ridge around its equator and a fairly smooth mantle of material on its surface -- likely an accumulation of fine particles from the rings," a NASA official said in a press release. "A few craters are obvious at this resolution. An additional ridge can be seen further north that runs parallel to the equatorial band."

The image shows details of the moon like its obvious grainy texture. It could mean that there were particles clumping together. Some edges, however, look sharp and some waves also appear softened. NASA experts say the changes could be attributed to moving particles. Some materials also follow Daphnis while it orbits, according to a report.

Cassini used its narrow-angle camera in visible green light to capture the image. The spacecraft was about 17,000 miles (28,000 kilometers) from the moon and at a 71-degree angle when the image was taken.

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