Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Breaking News from Saturn

The Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn, is about to perform a close flyby of the moon Enceladus, coming within 120 miles of it. In doing so, it will actually go through plumes from geysers on the moon's surface, and determine what chemicals the plumes consist of. Pretty cool.

Also, some recent studies suggest that Rhea, another Saturnian moon, may have a ring system. Planets have rings -- in our solar system, all of the outer planets have them, although the most prominent are around Saturn and Uranus. Stars do as well -- the sun has the asteroid and Kuiper belts. But if this is verified, it would be the first discovery of rings around a moon. In fact, it would be a ringed moon orbiting a ringed planet orbiting a ringed star. Again, pretty cool.

Update (Mar. 16): I should have linked to this when I first wrote this post, but NASA has a blog detailing the Enceladus encounter. Check it out.

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