The big gaseous giant called Saturn, the sixth planet from the Sun in our Solar System, is typically remembered because of the multiple rings that encircle the planet. However, it’s also a e-freaking-normous planet. At 95 times more massive than Earth and with a radius 9 times the equatorial radius of Earth, Saturn easily claims the prize of the second-largest planet in the Solar System (behind Jupiter).
Being that large and in charge, Saturn also boasts a ton of moons. 62 moons, in fact (that we know of, at least). And these moons aren’t just slouchy moons, either. For example, Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is bigger than Mercury, the smallest planet in the Solar System. Saturn has a moon that’s bigger than a recognized planet.
Given the scale of size that we’re talking about here, it makes the new photo that NASA shared today of Saturn all the more awe-inspiring.
Captured by the Cassini spacecraft on December 7, 2011, “using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelenghts of near-infrared light centered at 752 nanometers,” the image shows just how colossal Saturn is when compared to two of its moons, Tethys (right) and Pandora (left). As if Saturn didn’t didn’t already look gargantuan enough, the Cassini spacecraft was approximately 1.3 million miles away from Saturn with the picture was taken. This is the second time in a month that Cassini has put Saturn in the news. Last month, the spacecraft helped scientists discover a “lake” on Saturn’s moon, Titan.
Seriously. Those two moons look like flecks of crumbs tumbling off the chin of a very corpulent Saturn. In other words, that is one monster planet.
[Via NASA’s Official Twitter.]
Photo courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.