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Published on Mar 1, 2010
The Cassini orbiter has revealed many surprises within the Saturn system, including the possible presence of a ring of debris surrounding the ancient heavily cratered surface of Rhea, Saturn's second largest moon. Until now, no direct visual evidence of Rhea's suspected ring has been detected. This perspective view shows one of a series of relatively blue patches that form a very narrow band only 10 kilometers wide that straddles Rhea's equator. This view was created using stereo topography generated by Dr. Paul Schenk (http://www.lpi.usra.edu/lpi/schenk/) of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston Texas from Cassini imaging data returned in 2008. The bluish material is believed to be fresh ice reexposed when material from Rhea's ring struck the surface along the equator, and is a target of investigation for the March 2 Cassini flyby of Rhea. The largest craters shown here are about 20 to 30 kilometers wide and 3 to 5 kilometers deep. The colors have been enhanced to highlight the color differences between these patches and the more typical cratered terrains of Rhea.
credit: NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute / Universities Space Research Association / Lunar & Planetary Institute