Mimas, a Satellite of Saturn

Mimas is a medium-sized satellite of Saturn. It resembles the Death Star of the Star Wars film.

Image via Wikipedia

    NASA and other observers have noticed a similarity between Mimas, a medium-sized moon of Saturn, and the fictional Death Star depicted in the first Star Wars movie that came out in 1977. Fortunately, we know that the resemblance is a pure coincidence, since the topographical details of Mimas were not known until Voyager I sent back pictures in 1980. Otherwise many scholars would jump to the conclusion that George Lucas used Mimas as a model for his Death Star.

     This teaches us a valuable lesson. Similarity does not always prove literary borrowing. For example, when literary critics make the ridiculous claim that Matthew is indebted to the Gospel according to St. Mark for much of his material, do not believe them.

Position of Mimas

     The mean distance of Mimas from the center of Saturn is 185.520 kilometers, according to the European Space Agency. Its nearest neighbors are the tiny satellites Aegaeon and Methone. Aegaeon, which occurs in Saturn’s G Ring, is closer to the mother planet than Mimas, and Methone is farther away.

Size

     Mimas is nearly spherical. According to Wikipedia, its dimensions in kilometers are 415.6 by 393.4 by 381.2. This is reasonably close to the figures given by the European Space Agency.

Craters and Chasmata

     Mimas has plenty of craters. Most of them bear names associated with King Arthur and his court. Galahad is represented, as well as Launcelot, Gareth, and the cantankerous Kay. Another crater bears the name of Arthur himself, and Gwynevere, Merlin, and Modred are not forgotten. The spelling of the names follows Keith Baines’ translation of “Le Mort D’Arthur” by Sir Thomas Malory, according to the Planetary Society.

     The largest crater is named Herschel in honor of William Herschel, who discovered Mimas in 1789. Herschel is a huge crater. Its diameter is about 130 kilometers. A noticeably high mountain occurs in its center.

     A large body undoubtedly crashed into Mimas and formed the crater Herschel. The effects of the impact are evident on the opposite side of the satellite, where deep chasms called chasmata occur.

Discovery of Mimas

     William Herschel discovered Mimas in 1789. Much later, the satellite received its official name from John Herschel, the son of William.

Mimas in Mythology

     When Uranus suffered mutilation at the hands of the Titan Cronus, his blood fell upon Gaea, the Earth. The blood caused Gaea to conceive, and she gave birth to a large number of giants, one of whom was Mimas. Mimas and his fellow giants had peculiar serpentine legs.

     Zeus later confined the Titans to gloomy Tartarus. The Titans were also children of Gaea, so she persuaded the giants to wreak vengeance upon the gods for what they had done to the Titans. The gods defeated and killed the giants. The death of Mimas is variously reported. The version that I prefer attributes his death to Hephaestus.

References:

NASA: Mimas

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Mimas  

European Space Agency: Saturn’s Moons

http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=35229  

Wikipedia: Mimas (Moon)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimas_(moon) 

The Planetary Society: Mimas

http://planetary.org/explore/topics/saturn/mimas.html  

Solar Views: Mimas

http://www.solarviews.com/eng/mimas.htm  

Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature

http://planetarynames.wr.usgs.gov/SearchResults?target=MIMAS&featureType=Crater,%20craters  

Aktif Azimut: Karaburun in the Mythological Stories

http://www.aktifazimut.com/english/0422.htm

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