CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Tethys ‘Eyes’ Saturn
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The two large craters on Tethys, near the line where day fades to night, almost resemble two giant eyes observing Saturn.

The location of these craters on Tethys’ terminator throws their topography into sharp relief. Both are large craters, but the larger and southernmost of the two shows a more complex structure. The angle of the lighting highlights a central peak in this crater. Central peaks are the result of the surface reacting to the violent post-impact excavation of the crater. The northern crater does not show a similar feature. Possibly the impact was too small to form a central peak, or the composition of the material in the immediate vicinity couldn’t support the formation of a central peak.

In this image Tethys is significantly closer to the camera, while the planet is in the background. Yet the moon is still utterly dwarfed by the giant Saturn.

This view looks toward the anti-Saturn side of Tethys. North on Tethys is up and rotated 42 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on April 11, 2015.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 75,000 miles (120,000 kilometers) from Tethys. Image scale at Tethys is 4 miles (7 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini Solstice 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 Solstice Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Released: June 15, 2015 (PIA 18318)
Image/Caption Information
  Tethys ‘Eyes’ Saturn
PIA 18318

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Alliance Member Comments
Robert (Jun 15, 2015 at 6:30 PM):
This is a rare and stunning image of Thethys because we don't usually see so many of the large craters althogether in such luminous relief.

The top one must be Odysseus. The bottom one might be Melanthius but that crater seems too far North. And the fainter big crater in the middle looks like Penelope. Please correct me if I'm wrong about these craters.

I've checked the maps and can't figure out any other interpretation. But then this could be because of the Sun-Tethys angle and similar to our own Moon this Cassini image could be a unique angle that throws shallower craters into greater relief.

But still, this is a most interesting image of Tethys. It says something to me that seeing even a familiar moon from just a few illumination angles is not enough for me to know it.