Feeds

Phoebe's past writ large in craters

Saturn's moon shows its age

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Those craters in detailPhotographs from Cassini's flyby of Saturn's moon Phoebe have revealed a battered body, with an interesting past. Its face is pock-marked with craters ranging from 80 kilometers across to less than one kilometer, with variations in colour suggesting it contains plenty of ice.

The larger impact sites have prompted speculation that collisions in Phoebe's past could have blasted off enough material to have formed Saturn's smaller retrograde moons.

The brighter craters are most likely the newer impacts. Each collision would have blasted off surface material, and exposed brighter material, possibly ice, below the surface. There is more evidence for this theory on the crater walls: darker material seems to have slid down slope, exposing more light-colored material.

"What we are seeing is very neat. Phoebe is a heavily cratered body. We might be seeing one of the chunks from the formation of the solar system, 4.5 billion years ago. It's too soon to say," said Dr. Torrence Johnson, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "It's important to see the big picture from all of the other instruments to get the global view on this tiny moon."

All 11 of Cassini's instruments were pointed at the moon as the spacecraft flew by, just over 2000km above the surface. The data will be analysed over the next few days and will help scientists to build global maps of the moon, and to determine its composition, mass and density. ®

Related stories

Mysterious Phoebe: Cassini's next fly-by
Cassini images delight star gazers
Comet chasers seek secret of life

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Rosetta science team thinks Philae might come to life in the spring
And disclose the biggest surprise of Comet 67P
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.