The Peak on Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Mimas

Mimas' crater and peak
Saturn's icy moon Mimas highlights with shadows the vast size of Herschel Crater and its centerpiece Herschel peak. The image was captured by Cassini's narrow-angle camera on October 22, 2016 using several of its spectral filters. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Saturn's moon Mimas glows a shining white in this photo from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Dominating the image is Mimas' defining feature Herschel Crater, named after the astronomer William Herschel who first discovered the moon, where shadows offer a clue into how large the cavity actually is. 

The crater is 88 miles (140 kilometers) wide -- close to one-third the diameter of Mimas itself. Herschel peak, the central mountain feature common in large impact craters, stands a similar height to Earth's Mount Everest on Earth. The distinctive Herschel Crater gives Mimas more than a passing resemblance to the fictional Death Star from the "Star Wars" science fiction universe. You can see more photos of Mimas in our gallery here.

The Cassini spacecraft imaged the icy moon's hemisphere opposite Saturn with north being up and roughly 21 degrees left. Cassini's narrow-angle camera utilized a combination of its special filters to capture the image on Oct. 22, 2016, though NASA only released the image this month. Cassini was almost 115,000 miles (185,000 kilometers) from the moon.

Cassini, a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency and managed by Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, has been on its mission to gather data about the outer planets for nearly 20 years. In late 2016, the craft began the first portion of its Grand Finale where it will orbit Saturn more than 20 times gathering data about the planet, its moons and its rings before diving into the planet in late 2017.

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Christine Lunsford
Producer and Contributing Writer

Christine Lunsford joined the team in 2010 as a freelance producer and later became a contributing writer, covering astrophotography images, astronomy photos and amazing space galleries and more. During her more than 10 years with, oversaw the site's monthly skywatching updates and produced overnight features and stories on the latest space discoveries. She enjoys learning about subjects of all kinds.