While plow trucks across the US northwest pushed around snow this week, a Mount Everest-size rock near Saturn continued a centuries-long effort of clearing its own lane in the planet’s expansive disc of icy rings.
On January 16, the nuclear-powered Cassini spacecraft flew by the moonlet, called Daphnis, and took the closest-ever photo of the object. The shot below, which NASA released on Wednesday, is as pretty as it is incredible.
The image looks down on the 5-mile (8-kilometre) wide space rock in its 26-mile (42-kilometre) wide lane, called the Keeler Gap, as it zips on by:
NASA calls Daphnis the wavemaker moon, and it’s not hard to see why.The passing moonlet stirs up large waves of ring material with its weak gravitational pull, as well as smaller trails of grit that it yanks into the gap.If you look closely, you can see a wisp to the bottom-left of the moonlet: Source: This is the closest-ever photo of a moonlet hiding in Saturn’s rings