Gallery of Moons

The Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn has returned first images of many of the planet’s moons. This first orbit will be Cassini’s longest, as Saturn and its moons are used to shrink the orbit down to something more science activity-friendly. In 89 days the spacecraft will make a close flyby of Titan.

On its way out, Cassini took the closest images of Titan ever captured. While visual light images depicted the same smog-covered moon, other frequencies of light were used to take images of the surface. Mysteries abound. The predicted lakes or seas of methane were not seen. Instead, the images revealed a diverse surface possibly modified by different geological processes as well as bright methane clouds hovering near the south pole. When Cassini comes around for another pass it will be much closer, allowing much clearer images.

The images of the other moons reveal little more than Voyager images from the 1980s. Future orbits of Cassini will target specific moons, giving each its own moment in the spotlight.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a fiction writer and poet, with his first published poem forthcoming later in 2017 from Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (richardleis.com), on Goodreads (richardleis), his Micro.blog (@richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).