Closing in on Phoebe
The NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens spacecraft is closing in fast on its first target of observation in the Saturn system: the small, mysterious moon Phoebe, only 220 kilometres in diameter.
The three images shown here, the latest of which is twice as good as any image returned by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1981, were captured in the past week on approach to this outer moon of Saturn.
Phoebe's surface is already showing a great deal of contrast, most likely indicative of topography, such as tall sunlit peaks and deep shadowy craters, as well as genuine variation in the reflectivity of its surface materials.
Left to right, the three views were captured between 4 June and 7 June 2004, from distances ranging from 4.1 million kilometres to 2.5 million kilometres. The image scale ranges from 25 to 15 kilometres per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a co-operative project of NASA, ESA and ASI, the Italian space agency.
Credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute