Single Photo Shows 3 Crescent Moons

Image from Cassini orbiter shows Titan, Rhea, and Mimas in all their crescent glory
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 24, 2015 1:18 PM CDT
Saturn's three crescent moons: Rhea (upper left), Titan (middle), and Mimas (barely viewable at the bottom).   (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute, via the Washington Post)

(Newser) – It's not often (as in never) that we're able to look up into the night sky and see three crescent moons floating serenely above us. But thanks to a picture from the Cassini orbiter released by NASA, we're able to get a rare look at what three of Saturn's moons look like when they've entered crescent phase at the same time, the Washington Post reports. Titan (the planet's largest lunar body with a 3,200-mile diameter), Rhea (949 miles), and the relatively tiny Mimas (246 miles) made their appearance for the photo taken on March 25, and a NASA press release explains why they differ in appearance.

Rhea and Mimas have both suffered from what the space agency calls a "violent history" that's left them cratered with surface irregularities. Titan, meanwhile, looks hazier and smoother because it's got a super-dense atmosphere that scatters the light and creates a thick, yellow haze, the Post notes. Another Titan-ic difference: The crescent circles further around the moon because of that light refraction. (NASA wants to send a submarine drone to Titan.)

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