Skip to comments.Second PAC-MAN orbiting SATURN: Local absence of dots explained
Posted on 11/27/2012 10:46:33 AM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
NASA's Cassini mission has discovered a second Pac-Man moon in the Saturn system: Tethys.
Cassini already spotted the Pac-Man thermal shape on the Mimas moon in 2010, and this second shape - found in Tethys, one of Saturn's 62 icy moons - shows that warmer areas in this pattern could be pretty normal for moons.
"Finding a second Pac-Man in the Saturn system tells us that the processes creating these Pac-Men are more widespread than previously thought," said Carly Howett, lead author of a paper on Tethys.
"The Saturn system - and even the Jupiter system - could turn out to be a veritable arcade of these characters."
In the Pac-Man shape, the coldest part of the moon is in the mouth shape, while the surrounds reach a warmer temperature.
Boffins theorise that this happens when high-energy electrons bombard the low latitudes of the moon on the side that faces forward as it orbits, in this case around Saturn. That bombardment turns a small area of the moon into hard-packed ice, which can't heat as rapidly in the sunshine or cool down as quickly at night.
Finding the shape on Tethys proves that the electrons can dramatically alter the surface of an icy moon, even one that's also being hit with icy particles from Saturn's sixth-largest moon, Enceladus.
(Excerpt) Read more at theregister.co.uk ...
the warmth comes from Saturn or from the sun? both?
Oh, I thought this would be about a moon eating the rings. Perhaps shaped like an obelisk. And being “OMG, it’s full of stars.”
Is there Pac Man orbiting Uranus?
Shouldn’t that be the second GAME moon — Tetris ?
I did some calculations and it looks like the temperature difference is only about 27 degrees F. It looks like the leading face as it orbits collects ice crytals that make it cooler at that point than the trailing face (butt?). I think it is interesting that the temperature differential is that low and that we can actually measure that with the instruments on board.
In other words, interesting picture but totally pointless in a scientific sense.
Thanks Ernest, and an ‘extra, extra’ to APoD members.
Where there’s Pac Man, there’s ghost monsters. That’s an iron law, folks.
Our solar system just became a much scarier place.
Not true, there is grant money to be mined on Tethys.
Mining for grants.
I guess the pics do tell us something about the geology of the moon. Stuff we probably already knew.