Mimas the “Death Star Moon”, Cassini (February 13, 2015)

Mimas the "Death Star Moon", Cassini (February 13, 2015)

This view of the Mimas was captured on February 13, 2010 on Cassini’s closest-ever flyby of the moon at a distance about 5,900 miles (9,500 kilometers). This mosaic was created from six images taken that day in visible light with Cassini’s narrow-angle camera. Mimas’ most distinctive feature is a giant impact crater 81 miles (130 kilometers) across, named after William Herschel, the discoverer of Mimas. The Herschel crater makes Mimas look like the Death Star in the movie “Star Wars.”

The moon is named after Mimas, a son of Gaia in Greek mythology who was killed by Mars in the war between the Titans and the gods of Olympus. Even after his death, Mimas’ legs -which were serpents- hissed vengeance and sought to attack his killer.

Mimas was named by John Herschel, the son of discoverer William Herschel, who explained his choice of names for the first seven of Saturn’s moons to be discovered by writing, “As Saturn devoured his children, his family could not be assembled round him, so that the choice lay among his brothers and sisters, the Titans and Titanesses.”

Astronomers also refer to Mimas as “Saturn I” based on its distance being the closest to Saturn. With a diameter of 246 miles (396 kilometers) it is the smallest astronomical body that is known to be rounded in shape because of self-gravitation.

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