CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Color Near Herschel Crater
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Color Near Herschel Crater
PIA 12572

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  Subtle color differences on Saturn's moon Mimas are apparent in this false-color view of Herschel Crater captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during its closest-ever flyby of that moon.

The image shows terrain-dependent color variations, particularly the contrast between the bluish materials in and around Herschel Crater (130 kilometers, or 80 miles, wide) and the greenish cast on older, more heavily cratered terrain elsewhere. The origin of the color differences is not yet understood, but may be caused by subtle differences in the surface composition between the two terrains. False color images from Cassini's previous closest encounter, in 2005, also showed such variations (see PIA06257).

Herschel Crater covers most of the bottom of this image. To create this false-color view, ultraviolet, green and infrared images were combined into a single picture that exaggerates the color differences of terrain on the moon. These data were combined with a high-resolution image taken in visible light to provide the high-resolution information from the clear-filter image and the color information from the ultraviolet, green and infrared filter images.

The natural color of Mimas visible to the human eye may be a uniform gray or yellow color, but this mosaic has been contrast-enhanced and shows differences at other wavelengths of light.

During its closest-ever flyby on Feb. 13, 2010, Cassini came within about 9,500 kilometers (5,900 miles) of Mimas. This view looks toward the northern part of the hemisphere of Mimas that leads in the moon's orbit around Saturn. Mimas is 396 kilometers (246 miles) across. North on Mimas is up and rotated 12 degrees to the left.

The images were obtained with Cassini's narrow-angle camera on that day at a distance of approximately 16,000 kilometers (10,000 miles) from Mimas. The images were re-projected into an orthographic map projection. A black and white image, taken in visible light with the wide-angle camera, is used to fill in parts of the mosaic. Image scale is 90 meters (295 feet) per pixel.

The Cassini Equinox Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. 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.

For more information about the Cassini Equinox Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: March 29, 2010 (PIA 12572)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
jmason (Mar 30, 2010 at 10:38 AM):
marko: Your browser may be trying to open the tif files with the wrong kind of application. Please try clicking on the link at the top of this page that says, [For trouble viewing the images/movies on this page, go here]. Once you've downloaded the file to your computer, try opening it with an appropriate software application such as one of those listed on our help page.
marko (Mar 30, 2010 at 7:56 AM):
Having read your theory of why the crater floors and surroundings are darker than the steep crater walls [PIA 12568], I have another to offer. Could the debris cloud I mentioned below simply slide down those steep crater walls, exposing the lighter layer?

Wonderful images as always!
marko (Mar 30, 2010 at 5:43 AM):
An obvious comparison for me is ceramic, if you chipped through a dark layer of glaze to reveal the lighter ceramic beneath. However, wouldn’t an impact instead create a cloud of debris that would fall back to the surface, evenly coating the terrain and conceal the evidence of such layering?

PS - Your tiffs only open as noise.
ultomatt (Mar 29, 2010 at 1:36 PM):
The "bathtub ring" in Hershel and other larger craters is really quite fascinating. I don't recall seeing features like this anywhere else.

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