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Saturn Moon: Rhea!

This image of Rhea was acquired by the Voyager 2 spacecraft on August 25, 1981.


The second largest of Saturn's moons, Rhea was discovered by the Italian-French astronomer Gian Domenico Cassini in 1672. The moon is icy and has a low density. It probably has a rocky core that makes up about 1/3 of the Rhea's mass with the rest of the material as water-ice. Rhea bears resemblance to Dione in its composition, albedo and terrain.

Rhea is seen in this image taken by Voyager l on Nov. l2, 1980, at a range of 85,000 kilometers (52,800 miles) as the spacecraft passed over the satellite's north pole.


The surface of Rhea is heavily cratered. Generally, there are two major geological classifications for the types of craters on the surface. The first classification are for the craters larger than 40 kilometers in diameter (25 miles) and the second classification is for the craters less than 40 kilometers in diameter (25 miles). This evidence indicates the possibility of a surface Resurfacing that took place sometime in its history.

Voyager l image of Rhea on Nov. 12, 1980 from a range of 128,000 kilometers.


NASA's Voyager 1 took this high resolution color image of Rhea just before the spacecraft's closest approach to the Saturnian moon on Nov. 12, 1980 from a range of 128,000 kilometers. The area shown is one of the most heavily cratered on Rhea, and indicates an ancient surface dating back to the period immediately following the formation of the planets 4.5 billion years ago. The photograph shows surface features about 2.5 kilometers in diameter, similar to a view of Earth's Moon through a telescope. Other areas of Rhea's surface are deficient in the very large (100 kilometers or 62 miles or larger) craters, indicating a change in the nature of the impacting bodies and an early period of surface activity. White areas on the edges of several of the craters in the upper right corner are probably fresh ice exposed on steep slopes or possibly deposited by volatiles leaking from fractured regions.


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