After completing 11 years of its life, Cassini has revealed for the first time, high quality images of Rheas. The satellite, being a product of the collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA, sent back high quality hyper color images. The photos were originally taken on February 9th, with the help of its narrow and wide angle cameras.
Although it was originally intended for Titan, Cassini took these photos as it flew past by Rheas, a mysterious satellite of Saturn. Rheas is the second largest satellite of Saturn (after Titan). These images reveal of a hard layer of ice, which is considered to be harder than the rocks in moon. It has a diameter of nearly 950 miles. It also has huge craters on its surface as well. All of the images were generated back in earth Tilmann Denk and Heike Rosenberg at the Freie Universität in Berlin.
The spacecraft originally arrived in Saturn at June 2004. It had been launched from earth in 1997, with a mission to explore the ringed planet and its natural satellites. It was also planned to study the composition of the rings of Saturn through this spacecraft. This would help scientists to have a better grasp of the planet and know the early beginnings of the solar system as well.
Cassini is supposedly to be on its last phase of journey. It is expected that the spacecraft would soon run out of fuel within the next two and a half years. In an attempt to avoid any tiny collisions with any of Saturn’s moons, the space probe was planned to end up burning on its final stage.
The images were taken from a distance of between 30,000 to 50,000 miles away from Rheas. The spacecraft was also able to show that Janus and Epimetheus are two distinct satellites sharing the same orbit. The ringed planet is known to have 53 different moons. 9 more could also be declared as a satellite within the coming days.