Feeds

Saturn's new rings spark search for moons

Smoke, fire etc...

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The recent discovery of new rings around Saturn has prompted speculation that the Cassini mission will find previously unidentified moons orbiting the planet.

"Just like the old maxim that says 'where there's smoke there's fire', at Saturn, where there's a new ring there's bound to be a moon," said Jeff Cuzzi, Cassini interdisciplinary scientist at NASA's Ames Research Centre.

In mid-September, Cassini moved into Saturn's shadow and viewed the rings, backlit by the sun. As we reported, the researchers identified a new ring that shares its orbit with the moons Janus and Epimetheus, just inside the E and G rings.

A week later, another ring was discovered overlying the orbit of the moon Pallene. A third and fourth ring were also identified by Cassini in a gap in the Saturnian ring system. These latest rings were not imaged by the voyager spacecraft.

"We are hot on the trail of these possible elusive moonlets," said Joe Burn, Cassini imaging scientist at Cornell University.

"Finding the moons and learning about their interactions with the rings will help us understand how the moons formed and perhaps how the Saturn system formed."

The images taken while Saturn sheltered Cassini from the sun also revealed differences in the composition of the rings that have surprised astronomers.

The infrared images reveal striking colour differences in the rings, indicating variations in composition and in microscopic particles between the various rings. The main rings show a neutral color, while the C ring is reddish, and the D and E rings are quite blue.

Researchers are not sure what causes the difference in colour, but speculate that it could be to do with the size of the particles or the composition of the ring material. NASA says there are hints that materials other than the usual water-ice might be identified in the ring system. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
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
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.