CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
A Bite Out of the Moon

A Bite Out of the Moon
PIA 10570

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  Ithaca Chasma, an enormous rift that stretches more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) from north to south across the face of Tethys, seemingly takes a bite out of the moon's limb in this image from Cassini.

The canyon runs from the shadow of night in the north, across the crater Telemachus, and on to the southern limb of the moon. (North on Tethys is up and 16 degrees to the right in this image.) Impact craters obliterate the canyon's older tectonic features and attest to the rift's great age.

A dramatic close-up of the rift can be seen from a 2005 flyby of the moon (seePIA07734).

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Dec. 9, 2008 at a distance of approximately 245,000 kilometers (152,000 miles) from Tethys and at a Sun-Tethys-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 84 degrees. Image scale is 1 kilometer (4,804 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: February 3, 2009 (PIA 10570)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
NeKto (Feb 9, 2009 at 11:27 AM):
i think the side note is an important observation; so far it appears most of the moons of Saturn display a mix of ages in their terrain. before these cameras got there the thoughts i heard were that that would be the exception rather than the rule.
Dragon_of_Luck_Mah_Jonng1971 (Feb 4, 2009 at 8:05 PM):
As a side note: The lower part of Tethys lit here has got a bit less craters than the rest of this view.
NeKto (Feb 3, 2009 at 10:23 PM):
It really does resemble a nibble out of a cookie. So what can the "dentists" say about the "teeth" that made the "bite" from this perspective? it is great to be alive while this is happening. i feel sorry for people who can't appreciate it. i have had and am having so much fun enjoying both the artistry of so many of the images and the science in all of them.
thanks again CICLOPS!