Monday, July 10, 2017

Epimetheus, Saturn's moon, up close!

While the Cassini spacecraft prepares for her swan song and death dive into the Saturnian atmosphere, she is still orbiting the planet and taking pictures of everything.  In February, Cassini performed a flyby of the inner moon Saturn XI or Epimetheus.

The moon Janus was discovered in December 1966 by two separate astronomers and believed there to be only one moon.  In 1978, two more astronomers determined that 1966 observations were best explained by two distinct objects, sharing very similar orbits.  Voyager 1 confirmed this in 1980, so the two astronmers Stephen Larson and John Fountain are credited with Epimetheus' discovery.

Epimetheus is only about 70 miles in diameter which means it is too small to have an atmosphere or to be geologically active.  It has two named craters, Hilairea and Pollux, characters from Castor and Pollux of Greek mythology.

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