Images collected during the Cassini-Huygens close fly-by of Saturns moon Phoebe give strong evidence that the tiny moon may be rich of ice and covered by a thin layer of darker material.
Shown here is a mosaic of seven of the sharpest, highest resolution images taken of Phoebe during the Cassini-Huygens close fly-by of the tiny moon. The image scales range from 27 to 13 metres per pixel. Smaller and smaller craters can be detected as resolution increases from left to right. The number of blocks, or bumps on the surface also increases to the right. The Sun is coming from the right, so the bright-dark pattern is reversed between blocks and small craters. Grooves or chains of pits are seen on the left portion of the mosaic, which may mark fractures or faults induced by large impact events. Many of the small craters have bright rays, similar to recent craters on the Moon. There are also bright streaks on steep slopes, perhaps where loose material slid downhill during the seismic shaking of impact events. There are also places where especially dark materials are present, perhaps rich in carbon compounds.
Its surface is heavily battered, with large and small craters. It might be an ancient remnant of the formation of the Solar System.
On Friday 11 June, at 21:56 CET, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft flew by Saturns outermost moon Phoebe, coming within approximately 2070 kilometres of the satellites surface. All eleven on-board instruments scheduled to be active at that time worked flawlessly and acquired data.
The first high-resolution images show a scarred surface, covered with craters of all sizes and large variation of brightness across the surface.
Roberto Lo Verde | European Space Agency
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