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Cassini continues to uncover new wonders within the Saturn system with its discovery of two new moons orbiting between Mimas and Enceladus.
This movie shows the tiny “worldlet,” temporarily dubbed S/2004 S1, as it makes its way around the planet. A white box frames the moon’s location in the image. The image is part of a sequence specifically designed to search for new moons in the inner saturnian system. It has not been cleaned of imaging artifacts but has been greatly enhanced in contrast to increase visibility. Consequently, the background scattered light from the nearby rings, as well as many cosmic ray hits and noise patterns, are clearly apparent.
The size of the moon has been estimated to be 3 kilometers (about 2 miles) across. Because the moon is small and not resolved it appears as a faint point of light just barely visible above the background.
The image was taken on June 1, 2004, at a distance of 16.5 million kilometers (10.3 million miles) from Saturn. The image scale is approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) per pixel. This view was taken looking upward from Cassini’s southern vantage point, beneath the ring plane.
The S1 movie spans about 90 degrees of the moon’s orbit around the left side of the planet and consists of 27 frames taken over a period of six hours. The overexposed object seen orbiting Saturn is Mimas.
S/2004 S1 orbits at a distance of approximately 194,000 kilometers (120,000 miles) from Saturn. More precise orbit size and shape, as well as any tilt the orbit might have relative to Saturn’s ring plane, will require the acquisition of future imaging observations by the Cassini cameras. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute