Why Saturn’s Moon, Mimas is So Awesome

Why Saturn’s Moon, Mimas is So Awesome

Saturns Moon Mimas Symbol

Mimas is Saturn’s seventh moon and one of the most mysterious objects in the Solar System. One would think that Mimas inspired the Death Star from the 1977 film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, but the movie was made three years before the crater’s discovery by Pioneer 11 in 1979.

Voyager 1, Voyager 2, the Cassini probe in 2010 have visited Mimas since its discovery. Star Trek: The Next Generation featured the moon in an episode when Wesley Crusher once beamed to Mimas in an emergency after some suspect piloting Wes and pals, but that’s another issue. Let’s talk about Mimas, shall we?

Mimas received its name from one of the Greek “Giants” in mythology. But don’t confuse the Giants with the Titans. Both groups have the same mother and father Gaia and Uranus. Although they had the same parents, how the Giants came into this world is just a tad bit odd.

The Giants arose from the blood of a castrated Uranus…who was knifed by his son who was imprisoned within Gaia’s womb by Uranus, while Uranus was trying to “lay” her. Talk about some sick shit. Game of Thrones has nothing on Greek mythology. Thankfully the terms Gaia and Uranus have the meaning of “Earth” and “Sky,” which adds a tab bit of context.

The larger of Saturn’s moons were named after the Titans. Not sure why Mimas was the only moon named after a Giant instead of a Titan. Mistaken identity, perhaps? We will never know. William Herschel discovered Mimas on 17 September 1789, and his son, John Herschel, suggested the names in 1874.

Mimas's Herschel Crater

Speaking of Hershel, no visit to Mimas is complete without a trip to the Herschel crater, an adventurer’s wonderland. Mimas is 246 miles in diameter, slightly less than the land area of Spain. Herschel is 81 miles across. That makes the unusually large crater one-third the size of Mimas.

A violent impact created the crater thousands, maybe millions of years ago in Mimas’s young past, thereby giving Mimas it’s identity and similarity to the Death Star. The impact is peculiar if whatever hit Mimas was just a tiny bit larger or faster, we wouldn’t be able to visit this fantastic place.

A visit to the crater would start with rappelling down the 3 mile high walls into the crater and then take a tour along the numerous trails that meander across the 80-mile floor of this magnificent crater. A night on the crater floor would be a cold one. Mimas at it’s warmest is around -290 Fahrenheit and the coldest a whopping -325! Don’t forget to bring a jacket! At some point, you’d want to top off your trip to the crater with a morning climb the 5-mile high central peak before coming back to surface.

Craters, Chasms and Crater Chains

The Herschel crater is not the only amazing geological feature to explore on Mimas; many other craters, chasms, and crater chains exist for you to discover. Although Herschel was named after William Herschel, most of Mimas’ craters were named after characters in Camelot, the musical, the series; they are all the same.