Dance of Saturn’s Moons

Some festive fun from the imaging team at Nasa’s Cassini mission who constructed this musical interlude featuring Saturn’s moons from original images captured between Aug. 27 and Nov. 8, 2009. Video credit: NASA/JPL.From the Nasa/JPL press release

To celebrate the holidays, the Cassini imaging team has created a video collection of “mutual events,” which occur when one moon passes in front of another, as seen from the spacecraft. Imaging scientists use mutual event observations to refine their understanding of the dynamics of Saturn’s moons. Digital image processing has enabled scientists to turn these routine observations into breathtaking displays of celestial motion. The original images were captured between Aug. 27 and Nov. 8, 2009.

In one scene that synthesizes 12 images taken over the span of 19 minutes, Rhea skates in front of Janus, as Mimas and Pandora slide across the screen in the opposite direction. While the dance appears leisurely on screen, Rhea actually orbits Saturn at a speed of about 8 kilometers per second (18,000 mph). The other moons are hurtling around the planet even faster. Mimas averages about 14 kilometers per second (31,000 mph), and Janus and Pandora travel at about 16 kilometers per second (36,000 mph).

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  • joeCanuck

    Nice post Pete.

  • Pete Baker

    Joe

    Good to know someone [else] liked it.