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First View of Rhea.

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First View of Rhea.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft took this image of Rhea, Saturn's second largest Moon on June 2, 2004, when it was 990,000 km (615,000 miles) away. Rhea is 1528 km (950 miles) across, ancient, and cratered. More than 20 years ago, Voyager discovered that one of its hemispheres has bright, wispy streaks that might be deposits of water ice. Cassini is expected to fly only 500 km (311 miles) away from Rhea on November 26, 2005, so we've got a bit of a wait before getting the extreme close-up view.

As the first artificial satellite in the Saturn system, Cassini returned images of its native siblings following a successful insertion into orbit, including this unmagnified view of Rhea (1528 kilometers, 950 miles across). Rhea is Saturn’s second largest moon, and like Dione, the Voyager spacecraft found one of its hemispheres to covered with bright, wispy streaks which may be water frost.

This view shows a heavily cratered surface, and thus it is most likely an ancient one. Many of the craters visible here have central peaks. Cassini soon will look for clues to help unlock the moon’s geologic history. The spacecraft is slated to fly by Rhea at a distance of only 500 kilometers (311 miles) on November 26, 2005.

The image was taken in visible light with the narrow angle camera on July 2, 2004, from a distance of about 990,000 kilometers (615,000 miles) from Rhea and at a Sun-Rhea-spacecraft, or phase, angle of about 109 degrees. The image scale is 6 kilometers (4 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and the Cassini imaging team home page, http://ciclops.org.

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