19/01/2017 15:36 GMT | Updated 19/01/2017 15:36 GMT

Stunning Picture Shows Tiny Moon Daphnis Surfing The Rings Of Saturn



Of the 62 confirmed moons that orbit Saturn, none has more pluck than Daphnis.

A tiny dot compared to the gargantuan size of Saturn, Daphnis’ orbit means that despite its small size it makes a big impact on what’s around it.

You see Daphnis ‘surfs’ on Saturn’s rings, carving through the outer layers while leaving a fantastically beautiful wake behind it.

Captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, the ‘wavemaker’ was first spotted in 2009 as it sped through the 26-mile wide Keeler Gap found in Saturn’s outer rings.


Like a rock skimming over water you can actually see the ripples that Daphni’s tiny gravitation pul has on the gas giant.

At just 5 miles across Daphnis is well and truly minuscule when compared to Saturn’s staggering size.

Its rings alone are astonishing. Stretching as far as the moon is from Earth, and yet in some places less than a kilometre thick Saturn’s rings contain dust, ice and large rocks.

Saturn itself is also a collection of impressive numbers. It is around nine times larger than Earth and can be found around 900 million miles from the Sun.

Ho New / Reuters

While a day in Saturn lasts just 10.7 hours, its orbit is so large that a single year on the planet lasts 29 Earth years.

The astonishing photo of Daphnis was taken at a distance of 17,000 miles using Cassini’s visible light (green) narrow-image camera.

Stunning Astronomy Photographs

  • 14
    Stephen Voss
    Auroral Nuggets
  • 13
    Richard Inman
    Antarctic Space Station
  • 12
    Rick Whitacre
    Between the Rocks
  • 11
    Tommy Richardson
    Crystal Brilliance
  • 10
    Nicholas Roemmelt
    Frozen Giant
  • 9
    Philippe Jacquot
    ISS under Venus and the Moon
  • 8
    Ivan Eder
    M8 Lagoon Nebula
  • 7
    Giles Rocholl
    The northern lights illuminate the lagoon at Jokulsarlon, Iceland photo tour, February 2016
  • 6
    Sean Goebel
    Parallel Mountains
  • 5
    Lee Cook
  • 4
    Katherine Young
    Rise Lunation
  • 3
    Rune Engebø
    Seven Magic Points
  • 2
    Melanie Thorne
    The Diamond Ring
  • 1
    Michael Jäeger
    The Disconnection Event