Hot space projects produce cool cosmic discoveries

NASA, ESA and others' spacecraft and telescopes find new planet, make sense of old ones and solve cosmic mysteries

Death star: NASA's Cassini satellite passed by the Saturn moon Mimas on Feb. 13, and sent back what NASA called striking close-ups of the moon likened to the Death Star from "Star Wars" and the enormous crater scarring its surface. The flyby also yielded solid data on the moon's thermal signature and surface make up. The images sent back from the flyby show the bright, steep slopes of the giant Herschel Crater, which measures about 88 miles wide. The icy slopes appear to be pitched around 24 degrees, which would probably earn them a black- or double-black-diamond rating on Earth. Olympic downhill skiers could probably tear down these runs with ease, but it's clear Mimas is no place for bunny-slope beginners, NASA said.

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