Mimas is a small moon of Saturn that was discovered in 1789 by William Herschel. It is one of the many natural satellites of Saturn and is located in the outer reaches of the Saturnian system. With a diameter of only 396 kilometers, it is considered to be one of the smallest moons in our solar system.
Despite its small size, Mimas has a distinct appearance, as it is heavily cratered and has a large impact feature on its surface known as Herschel Crater, which is nearly one-third of the moon’s diameter. The impact that created Herschel Crater likely caused Mimas to wobble on its axis, making it a unique and interesting object for scientists to study.
An entire ocean is hidden on Mimas?
Mimas, the smallest moon of Saturn, is believed to potentially have an underground ocean, according to scientists at the Southwest Research Institute and as Phys.org reveals. The hypothesis is based on a “curious libration” in Mimas’ rotation observed by NASA’s Cassini mission, which is often an indicator of a geologically active body with an internal ocean.
The discovery could represent a new class of small ocean worlds that have surfaces that do not show any signs of the ocean’s presence. The theory is still being explored, but if proven, it could bring new insight into the geological activity of Saturn’s moons.
Dr. Alyssa Rhoden explained, as Phys.org quotes:
Mimas seemed like an unlikely candidate, with its icy, heavily cratered surface marked by one giant impact crater that makes the small moon look much like the Death Star from Star Wars. If Mimas has an ocean, it represents a new class of small, ‘stealth’ ocean worlds with surfaces that do not betray the ocean’s existence.
The new study was published in Geophysical Research Letters.