Janus (111 miles or 179 kilometers across) seems to almost stare off into the distance, contemplating deep, moonish thoughts as the F ring stands by at the bottom of this image.
From this image, it is easy to distinguish Janus' shape from that of a sphere. Many of Saturn's smaller moons have similarly irregular shapes that scientists believe may give clues to their origins and internal structure. Models combining the dynamics of this moon with its shape imply the existence of mass inhomogeneities within Janus. This would be a surprising result for a body the size of Janus. By studying more images of Janus, scientists may be able confirm this finding and determine just how complicated the internal structure of this small body is.
This image is roughly centered on the side of Janus which faces away from Saturn. North on Janus is up and rotated 3 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 28, 2012.
The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 54,000 miles (87,000 kilometers) from Janus. Image scale is 1,700 feet (520 meters) per pixel.
The Cassini 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 mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov or http://www.nasa.gov/cassini . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute