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Saturn's Moons Built From Ring Material 115

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the lookit-all-them-moons-up-there dept.
LiquidCoooled writes "Two of Saturn's small moons look eerily like flying saucers, new observations by the Cassini spacecraft reveal. The moons, which lie within the giant planet's rings, may have come by their strange shape by gradually accumulating ring particles in a ridge around their equators."
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Saturn's Moons Built From Ring Material

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  • Actually relevant (Score:4, Informative)

    by explosivejared (1186049) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (deraj.nagah)> on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:06AM (#21611585)
    Wow, the "that's no moon" comments actually have some relevance now, as one can say "that's not moon... it's aggregated ring material that only looks like a moon!"
    • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:15AM (#21611685) Journal
      The earth isn't a planet, it's aggregated stellar dust that looks like a planet!

      A planet/moon is just aggregated dust from something. Being aggregated ring dust doesn't make it less of a moon.
      • The earth isn't a planet, it's aggregated stellar dust that looks like a planet! Which Star Wars was that one from? See I find Science hard so I have to orient it around things I do understand, like science fiction. See I didn't understand just how devastating being left out unprotected in space could be, you know black body radiation and lack of oxygen, until I read the Hitchhiker's Guide. I also didn't understand the dangers of a robot killing frenzy (a proven scientific fact!) until I read Asimov. So unt
        • by dwye (1127395)

          I also didn't understand the dangers of a robot killing frenzy (a proven scientific fact!) until I read Asimov.

          But Asimov only had one robot killing frenzy in his entire Robot series (although one other story LOOKED like it might devolve into one, soon after). You must mean Robert Silverberg.

          Or else you are thinking of the movie version of I, Robot (version like The Thing was a version of Who Goes There?). But that would be silly.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Bush had been claiming for a significant period of time that there was no ring dust on those moons.
        This finding just shows what a big liar Bush is.
        He is such a big liar that he even claims to have been speaking English to the American people these many years. He has, in fact, been speaking Etruscan. The impedence mismatch between the two languages explains the rather inept speeches Bush delivers.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by jav1231 (539129)
          Bravo..no really...pounding the anti-Bush rhetoric into a completely unrelated thread is awesome...

          Okay, Folks, I'll hold him down, someone get his medication ready.

      • by onion2k (203094)
        Our moon isn't aggregated dust, it's a chuck of Earth that was knocked off by an impact with something early in the life of the planet.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ByOhTek (1181381)
          If it came from a chunk of aggregated dust, doesnt that just make it a slightly more modified chunk of aggregated dust?
          • No, our moon was a moon of Minerva until Minerva's two warring factions destroyed the planet and the moon was captured by Earth.

            Inherit The Stars
      • by Tablizer (95088)
        The earth isn't a planet, it's aggregated stellar dust that looks like a planet!

        Soylent Ring is People!
           
    • by blahlemon (638963)

      Wow, the "that's no moon" comments actually have some relevance now, as one can say "that's not moon... it's aggregated ring material that only looks like a moon!"

      Yeah, but how would it sound with Alex Guiness saying it?

    • Considering that a moon is defined as a naturally occurring satellite orbiting a planetary body the phrase "that's no moon" is still irrelevant.
    • More actual things, or should I say zings? For zose who actually read-ze-fucking-article and played ze movie.. zis french guy should not be allowed to comment on ze movie.. I barely understood what he had to say.
  • Built? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by skeftomai (1057866)
    By god, right? How about a better word, like 'consists?'
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)
      Built is a perfectly appropriate word. Consists simply tells what something is made of, built tells how. Since it didn't spontaneously pop into existence, built works fine.
  • by CaseyB (1105) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:08AM (#21611601)
    Saturn's moons are made of Scrith?
  • Or Maybe... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nhstar (452291) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:10AM (#21611643)
    Saturn's Rings are made of moon material? Is this chick or egg?
    • FYI:

      The egg came before the chicken. That's just how evolution works. A non-chicken did not have all its DNA mutate mid-life turning it into a chicken. Instead, the zygote of the first chicken had all it's DNA intact at conception, passed along from two parents that were not quite chickens.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Wellspring (111524)
        Does the mother create the egg? Or does it self-generate?

        This is actually a semiserious question
        • by Gabrill (556503)
          semi-serious answer: yes the mother and father hand down mutated genes to make a new and (hopefully) better creature. At least that's one theory.
        • The egg "self-generates" if you're asking what I think you're asking.

          The egg is actually a sac around the fetus, and it grows with the fetus until it hardens and becomes an egg.
  • I just can't to seem to find it.

    Moons are just LOTR spin offs

    One moon to rule them all.

    I hope they are better then The Silmarillion
  • ummm, no shit?
    • In as much as it was previously thought that the moons *couldn't* grow in the ring-region (what with tides), I'm a little curious as to how come you think their grown is obvious.
    • c'mon now man...this does not belong in the 'duh' file

      since galleleo humans have seen rings around saturn and wondered how they got there. these types of discoveries help answer that question.

      more specifically, according to TFA, many speculate that saturn's rings are the detritus from some sort of collision event in the early solar system, and that these moons are large chunks left over from that. if that's true then examining a physical specimine from these moons could tell us alot about what t
  • Too much to ask? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kintar1900 (901219) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:19AM (#21611721) Homepage

    Is it too much to ask that New Scientist stop using crappy CGI and start posting some of the actual photographs that the astronomers used to form their theories?

    • Re:Too much to ask? (Score:5, Informative)

      by JonWan (456212) on Friday December 07, 2007 @10:52AM (#21612097)
      I thought so too.So I googled and found this. May be redundant now tho.

      http://www.planetary.org/explore/topics/saturn/atlas.html [planetary.org]
    • Re:Too much to ask? (Score:4, Informative)

      by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:40AM (#21612773) Homepage
      Since the data came from Cassini ISS and since we're the authors on the paper, I feel no qualms about suggesting visiting http://ciclops.org/view_event.php?id=73 [ciclops.org]
      • One picture clearly shows a transmitter dish pointing directly at the Earth, which is the source of the navigational data for the black helicopters, as relayed by UFO's.

        Crater? That's what they WANT you to think.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Tablizer (95088)
      Is it too much to ask that New Scientist stop using crappy CGI and start posting some of the actual photographs that the astronomers used to form their theories?

      Ideally you publish both. The actual photos are a bit hard for a non-expert to interpret. The stark lighting of space makes it difficult to see the full shape.
               
    • by gillbates (106458)

      Yes.

      They're selling science news, not making scientific discoveries. Important, subtle difference there.

      • And, as a scientifically-inclined reader, I like my science news to have at least references to some of the original media involved in the discovery they're reporting on. Without that, there's no point in me looking at their news story, because I have nothing I can use to gauge how much spin and/or ignorance was present when the news story was created.

  • That moon with the big wall on it (can't remember which planet it orbits)- could it have a similar explanation? That is, an already-formed moon runs through a very thin ring for a couple of centuries, accumulating the ring material in one big long pile that ends up looking like a wall?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tejin (818001)
      The moon is Iapetus. It has a walnut shape and a massive equatoral wall. It's a possible explanation, though Iapetus orbits outside the ring system, and off-plane.

      Then again there could be a 'black ring' further out which explains the two-tone colouring of the moon and the equatoral wall. The only problem is that we haven't detected and rings out there.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Mod parent up informative. Also, I'd suggest checking out Richard Hoagland's hilarious batshit insane conspiracy theories [enterprisemission.com] about it ... there's some very interesting facts in there too if you filter out the crazy conclusions. It's a weird moon.
      • In short, no, we don't think that this mechanism explains Iapetus. Best guess there is that you have some tectonic effect due to its thermal history. There are some recent papers out there on the topic, although I'm very familiar with the details.
      • by Tablizer (95088)
        The moon is Iapetus. It has a walnut shape and a massive equatoral wall. It's a possible explanation, though Iapetus orbits outside the ring system, and off-plane.

        But it's possible that in the past it may have been part of wider ring, such as a moon smashing up near its orbit. Over time the ring would dissappear, as some speculate Saturn's current rings would if not replenished. But the off-plane issue still need to be accounted for. Maybe it used to be on plane, but too was smacked by something, perhaps
  • Fourteen posts and no "That's no moon..." jokes yet?

    Chris Mattern
  • Aren't the rings bashed up/unformed moons anyhow?
    • by Flagbrew (471794)
      I'm pretty sure that the rings are made up of lost airline luggage.
    • Re:News? (Score:5, Informative)

      by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:44AM (#21612831) Homepage
      Probably. The problem is that the rings can't accrete into moons because of tidal forces. (They do form temporary aggregates, but those tear apart again in roughly one orbital period.) So the presence of moons in this region is a bit of a mystery. One possibility was that they were large shards of whatever body broke up and formed the rings. What we found in our research is that there are indeed seed-cores in the middles of the moons, but that the moons then accreted a lot more material into a mantle, lowering their densities to almost absurdly small values and reshaping them. The moons you have now are a hybrid of progenitor material and ring particles.
  • . . . now that's a cool concept. Geeky, but cool.
  • saturn's moons are not the only thing that are bulging in the middle
  • I thought it was obvious that the numerous moons of Saturn came about as a result of collections within the rings. That is why you see gaps in and around the orbits of the moons.
  • According to the article, the scientists involved are saying the moon was formed in two phases and that the second phase had the moon pull in ring material and add it on top of the first phase. While it's general scientific consensus that the rings of saturn were probably caused by a moon breaking up, the use of 'probably' is important. We're still looking for that kernel of truth that will prove decisively one theory over another. This isn't a case of the whole evolution vs creationism debacle - there's
    • Speaking as a ring scientist, I don't actually know of any other real contending theories for the origin of the rings. This isn't to say that we have the story all figured out, but as far as I've ever heard, people seem pretty comfortable with the break-up model. (For one thing, it's stochastic and therefore would reasonably explain why only Saturn has a really massive ring system.)
  • The Bush government has taken a strong anti-'Ring Material' stance. Bush was quoted as saying "Everyone knows all moons are made of cheese."

    The Homeland Security Department released a memo this morning citing the Moons of Saturn for "...devious and unnatural behaviour..." and warned that their actions could be taken as "...preliminary build-up for a terrorist strike against the hard working dairy providers of America."

    Osama Bin Ladin also released a tape stating that the Koran clearing shows that "...all mo

  • Oh man, who would have thought! A source of scrith in our own solar system!

    Guys, I wasn't so sure about getting into a space race with China, but now I know we need to get there first. Anyone know how close we are to an actual cziltang brone?
  • by being thrown in the mountain of DOOM!! OMG!!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2007 @11:15AM (#21612397)
    http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/images/image-details.cfm?imageID=2865 [nasa.gov] //and congratulations to New Scientist for the most annoying holiday ad ever.
  • Someone explain to me how those ring particles got compressed into such a solid-looking moon. If these particles are just gradually coalescing due to gravity, that would result in a "fluff ball" of particles, not a solidly packed mass. By what force are these particles packed together into a solid mass?
    • by R2.0 (532027)
      "By what force are these particles packed together into a solid mass?"

      Ummm...gravity? At least, I think it works out in the rest of the universe the same way it works here (see Sedimentary Rocks).
      • Gravitational forces are way too weak. On the surfaces of these guys, the escape speed is (literally) zero thanks to tidal and centrifugal forces.

        They aren't compressed at all. That's why the densities are so incredibly low.
    • They're not packed very tightly, in as much as the densities are around half that of liquid water.

      They're not compressed. They are probably sintered together thanks to repeated exposures to sunlight and then dipping into the planet's shadow, although the details of that we did not work out.
  • Ok How many of you immedeately thought of RingWorld by Larry Niven?
    • by R2.0 (532027)
      A shitload of us, and you're late - the Niven post is above. Get moving - we haven't come up with nearly enough puppeteer jokes yet.
  • Am I the only one who saw the article and read "Sailor Moon .... " ? I was thinking wow, I wonder why this is on the front page of /. And then when I re-read the title, I was disappointed :-(
  • Astronomers have determined that the shape of the satellite determines whether it is classified as a moon or not. In an astounding landslide at the latest meeting, it was declared that saucer shaped satellites are to be labeled actual moons, while the spherical satellites are now called pseudo-moons. This in a new spree of reclassifications by astronomers has confused many people.
  • The moons, which lie within the giant planet's rings, may have come by their strange shape by gradually accumulating ring particles in a ridge around their equators.
    The dominating theory as to how the moon of Earth formed was a method much like this. The Earth actually had rings from a giant impact at one time and they all condensed into one big mass that we know and love as Luna.
    • No, the Moon formed in a notably different way: no dense seed was required to form it. In the rings, tidal forces keep things from building into moons. Our Moon almost certainly formed outside of Earth's Roche limit where it was able to coalesce without significant hindrance.
      • Note the word theory used.
        • Yes? How is that relevant to my reply?
          • I presented a theory as a theory and you presented a theory as a fact.
            • I did no such thing, please re-read my message more carefully. I was simply pointing out the differences in the theories; there are major reasons why this new work is different from the models of lunar formation which is what necessitated this research in the first place.
            • Ah, I see the source of the confusion. My first sentence was not meant to suggest a definitive knowledge, I figured the fact that it was a theory was to be understood and wasn't the point in any case.
  • The narrator has the most horrific Franglais ever! Barely intelligible. Why, why, why did they let a French guy narrate the story? But the strange moons are impressive.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CheshireCatCO (185193)
      Because he did the research and, more importantly, put the movie together.

      Honestly, Sebastien's English is so much better than my French, I would never complain.

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