Feeds

Phoebe's past writ large in craters

Saturn's moon shows its age

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?