A visual study of 9 of Saturn's 61 moons, told through a series of abstract motion graphics. Each animated icon represents the physical and chemical composition of the moon, with every element of the design backed up by specific scientific reasoning and extensive research.
In order of distance from Saturn: Pan, Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, Rhea, Titan, Hyperion, Iapetus
Individual motion graphic in relation to the NASA Cassini photograph of each moon.
Pan is the innermost moon of Saturn's system and only about 9 miles in radius. It lies within the Encke Gap of Saturn's A-ring and is responsible for keeping its path open. The most distinguishable feature of the moon is its equatorial ridge making it look like a flying saucer. Equatorial ridges are mountainous regions or bulges on the surface around the equator that are a distinct feature only found on Saturn's moons. They are hypothesized to have been created by either tidal interaction or by constant bombardment of space material on the equator region.
Mimas is nicknamed the "Death Star" because of its uncanny resemblance to the Star Wars space station. The large crater is called Herschel Crater and its impact caused the chasmata, or fractures on the other side of the moon.
Enceladus is one of the most compelling case for life in the solar system outside of the Earth and showed that the "Goldilocks Zone" is much wider in scope than once believed. On the southern pole of the moon are hydrothermal vents that release water vapor and ice particles from underground oceans. These geysers erupt at 800 mph and contribute particles to the dust of the E-ring of Saturn. The moon is one of the brightest objects in the solar system as the surface is almost entirely covered in water ice.
Tethys is composed of mostly water ice and rock, with its most distinguished feature being the Odysseus Crater and the Ithaca Chasma. The Odysseus Crater is a large impact crater that is not so weathered that only a small ridge remains. The Ithaca Chasma is a large valley on the other side of the crater and was thought to be either caused by the crater's impact or by the effects of an ancient ocean of water that froze.
Dione is 1/3 made of silicate rock and 2/3 of water ice. It is constantly bombarded with ice particles from the E-ring, which are produced from the geysers of Enceladus. Bright, wispy lines that run for hundreds of miles along its surface are the edges of ice canyon walls.
Rhea is the second largest moon of Saturn's system and is made of a homogenous mixture of ice and rock. The surface is covered in wispy lines that show the walls of canyons and an array of craters. The moon also has a very thin atmosphere called an exosphere that contains mostly oxygen and carbon dioxide but is 5 trillion times thinner than the atmosphere of Earth's. Particles create a thin ring around the moon and is the first moon to have been discovered to have rings.
Titan is the largest moon in Saturn's system and comprises 98% of the planet's orbital mass. The moon's orange haze is due to its dense atmosphere of nitrogen and methane that simulates a similar greenhouse effect of smoggy cities like on Earth. Though there are cold surface temperatures, Titan has a similar composition to Earth in that water acts like rock and magma, while methane and ethane act like water which flows in rivers and lakes. There is thought to be an underground ocean of water and ammonia that could be a vital key to life on the moon.
Hyperion is the largest non-spherical moon and is thought to be the remnant of a larger destroyed moon. The potato shaped moon is covered in craters with a density half that of water and moves through its orbit chaotically. Its porous texture is the result of minimal tidal warming from Saturn due to its far distance, that would have otherwise smoothed its surface.
Iapetus is nicknamed the Yin and Yang of Saturn's moons as it has a duo chromed surface. As it is tidally locked with Saturn, meaning it shows only surface to its planet like our moon to Earth, its leading hemisphere is very dark, while the trailing hemisphere is very bright. This, combined with the moon's slow rotation of 79 days, causes dark space material to accumulate on the leading hemisphere. The moon also has an equatorial ridge that comprises of a 6 mile chain of high mountains.