Tethys has a crater-saturated surface, where older, larger basins have been completely overprinted by newer, smaller impacts. This state is what scientists expect to see on a very old surface, where small impactors have struck more frequently than larger ones over several billion years. Larger impacts were more common events in the early history of the solar system.
This view looks toward the leading hemisphere of Tethys (1,062 kilometers, 660 miles across). North is up. The great scar of Ithaca Chasma is seen at right. The moon's mysterious belt of dark material is visible toward the top of the image.
The view was captured in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Sept. 25, 2006 at a distance of approximately 449,000 kilometers (279,000 miles) from Tethys and at a Sun-Tethys-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 49 degrees. Image scale is 3 kilometers (2 miles) per pixel.
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 imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.