The giant planet Saturn is known to everyone thanks to its amazing rings, which no other planet in the solar system has on the scale shown.. However, Saturn is also interesting for its amazing number of moons, including large ones that are even potentially suitable for life.. In newly released NASA images, Saturn's moons are shown in all their glory, as if straight out of the pages of science fiction.
From left to right, Janus, Pandora, Enceladus, Mimas and Rhea are captured, with the edges of Saturn's rings running through the middle of the image. Image source: NASA
But these are real images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.. The station studied the Saturn system from 2004 to 2017. Thanks to her and subsequent observations, we today know about the existence of 156 satellites of this giant planet. This is a kind of solar system in miniature and someday it will become a vast inhabited region of space in which humanity can find its second home.
The rings of Saturn and its four moons from left to right: Pan (in the gap between the rings), Titan, Dione (in the background of Titan) and Pandora
Even from photographs of Saturn's large moons alone, scientists can determine the geology and structural features of these celestial bodies. Among them stand out satellites, replete with cracks and even geysers, which hints at the existence of global subsurface oceans there. And where there is a liquid and, moreover, distinctly aquatic environment, there may well be conditions for the emergence of biological life in warm layers deep under ice or rocks.
The atmosphere of Titan illuminated by the Sun behind the rings and small Enceladus against the background of the atmosphere
Moreover, Saturn's moon Titan is the only moon in the Solar System with a dense atmosphere.. At one time, NASA expects to launch a 450-kg Dragonfly helicopter on it.. Titan looks especially impressive in Cassini photographs when the Sun illuminates it from the rear, highlighting the atmosphere of the small planet. Finally, it is simply beautiful and even amazing that we have the opportunity to look at images taken billions of kilometers from Earth.