Nav: Home

Close Cassini flybys of Saturn's ring moons

March 28, 2019

The properties of five small moons located close to Saturn's rings have been illuminated, thanks to data from the Cassini spacecraft's final orbits. These small inner moons have unusual morphologies, and their optical properties are determined by two competing processes - an understanding of which helps explain any difference in color between the moons and their adjacent ring, the authors say. While Saturn has more than 60 confirmed moons, Saturn's main ring system is associated with a unique set of small moons that are either embedded within it or interact with the rings to alter their shape and composition. Among questions about interactions between the ring system and these inner moons, whether the rings formed from the break-up of an inner moon, or, by contrast, whether the consolidation of existing ring material formed the moons remains unclear. Whether any volatiles other than water ice exist on these moons has also been a question. Between December 2016 and April 2017, the Cassini spacecraft performed six close flybys of the moons Pan, Daphnis, Atlas, Pandora, and Epimetheus, collecting collect data on these moons' morphology, structure, particle environment, and composition. The analysis involved several instruments onboard Cassini. From these flybys and the data captured, Bonnie Buratti and colleagues report that no volatiles other than water ice exist on the ring moons. The moons' geology was shaped by a complex history, including groove formation caused by tidal stresses. Finally, depending on the position of the moon with respect to the rings, with Pan being reddest, and Epimetheus being bluest, the optical properties of the moons are determined by two competing process, the authors say: contamination by a red chromophore from the main rings and ice particles or water vapor from the E-ring. The authors say the low densities of the small moons as measured here support a multi-stage moon formation scenario involving accretion of ring material.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Moon Articles:

Astronaut urine to build moon bases
The modules that the major space agencies plan to erect on the Moon could incorporate an element contributed by the human colonizers themselves: the urea in their pee.
How moon jellyfish get about
With their translucent bells, moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) move around the oceans in a very efficient way.
Does crime increase when the moon is full?
Noting that anecdotal beliefs can affect public policies and practices, a 'pracademics' team from NYU's Marron Institute of Urban Management worked with public safety personnel to examine the commonly held axiom that crime rises with the full moon -- and found that the evidence is just not there.
Soil on moon and Mars likely to support crops
Researchers at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands have produced crops in Mars and moon soil simulant developed by NASA.
Are we prepared for a new era of field geology on the moon and beyond?
Space agencies must invest more resources on field geology training of astronauts to take full advantage of scientific opportunities on the moon and other planetary bodies, Kip Hodges and Harrison Schmitt urge, in an Editorial.
Modeling early meteorite impacts on the moon
A detailed reconstruction of meteorite impacts resolves a longstanding problem and gives new insight into how the moon formed.
Why does the moon smell like gunpowder? (video)
After walking on the Moon astronauts hopped back into their lunar lander, bringing Moon dust with them.
Formation of the moon brought water to Earth
As the only terrestrial planet, the Earth has a large amount of water and a relatively large moon, which stabilizes the Earth's axis.
The moon is quaking as it shrinks
A new analysis suggests that the moon is actively shrinking and producing moonquakes along thousands of cliffs called thrust faults spread over the moon's surface.
Magma is the key to the moon's makeup
For more than a century, scientists have squabbled over how the Earth's moon formed.
More Moon News and Moon Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.