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Space Technology

Cassini Confirms New Moon of Saturn 207

pipcorona writes ""In a spectacular kick-off to its first season of prime ring viewing, which began last month, the Cassini spacecraft has confirmed earlier suspicions of an unseen moon hidden in a gap in Saturn's outer A ring. A new image and movie show the new moon and the waves it raises in the surrounding ring material."
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Cassini Confirms New Moon of Saturn

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  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @12:11AM (#12506338)

    From TFA:

    The new body has been provisionally named S/2005 S1.

    Well, that just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

    Looks like it's up to us...please post your suggestions for the new moon's name below.

  • Not a movie! (Score:1, Informative)

    by CypherXero ( 798440 )
    It's not a movie! Geez! It's an animated GIF image!
  • by psetzer ( 714543 ) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @12:17AM (#12506376)
    I mean, really? Every time they find a new one, the things just keep getting smaller. What's next, a piece of ejecta from another moon the size and shape of a '74 Chevy Impala? Might as well start naming the debris in the rings.
    • The impala is not recognised as a unit of measure. Please use Volkswagons, or ISO Standard Bathtubs.

      I'm not sure where the exact cutoff is. I'd assume anything in the decivolkswagon range would simply be considered as flotsam unworthy of a name, unless somebody wants to try to catalogue everything in the rings! You'd need a lot of mountain dew.
      • You'd need a lot of grad students.

        Changed for clarity.

      • I can see a number of people from my desk, all of whom are a decivolkswagen or smaller in size (ok a couple are probably bigger) and AFAIK all of them have names?

        It's taken careful observation to recognize them, since their average albedo (i.e. brightness) is pretty low. But through a thorough analysis of donut-crumb tracks and the oscillation of the water in the cooler, I can pretty certainly infer their locations making direct visual identification a mere formality.
      • The impala is not recognised as a unit of measure. Please use Volkswagons, or ISO Standard Bathtubs.

        Here in the U.S., the standard unit of measure is number of football fields.

    • They would be bigger but that damn Rebel fleet keeps blowing them up. They've been reduced to building on the Spaceballs "Winnebago" scale.
    • I'm repeating myself here (see my post below)...

      This satellite is actually interesting since it may hold a key on how to retain a gap in the A-ring. It has to do with this small body of a satellite perturbing the neighboring, smaller dusts and removing them from the region effectively.

      Somelike that can be studied numerically (n-body problems) to prove the ring's composition, etc. A nice test case for n-body problem.

      [I really should be moderating today but...oh well.]
    • It may be a way to fund science.

      Think about all the people that 'buy' a name for a star for their loved ones, or purchase a claim for land or minerals rights on the moon, Mars, or elsewhere? Yes, I have read the international conventions stating no one can own this or that, but is naming something a claim to ownership? Alfred Brooks [] (the late geologist and explorer for the U.S.G.S.), nor his decendants, lay any claim to ownership of the Brooks Range in Arctic Alaska.

      I might be inclined to give $100 to h

    • I mean, really? Every time they find a new one, the things just keep getting smaller. What's next, a piece of ejecta from another moon the size and shape of a '74 Chevy Impala? Might as well start naming the debris in the rings.

      Well, everybody could get something named after them that way.

      You know what would be a good business model? Selling people small moons, made to order. You could get them made out of whatever you wanted- say, silver, or gold or steel or marble, although something you could polish w

    • Every time they find a new one, the things just keep getting smaller.

      That'd be because the big ones, them being summat easier to spot as they are, have been found already. ;-)
  • by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @12:19AM (#12506384) Homepage
    7km across? Compared to Saturn thats tiny. Thats like saying the ISS is a moon.

    So how do you draw a distinction between a moon, a natural satellite, asteroids and space junk? You can either say the moon Earth has an asteroid orbiting it... or that Earth has many moons orbiting it, only one of which is large enough to see.

    So if I pay the Russian space program to launch my 1kg rock in lower orbit, do I get to name my moon, or will they just name it
    S/2005 SR26GC3.14159265357?

    Which makes me wonder, have we named or numbered our own moon yet? Can I call shotgun and call it 'fp!'?

  • Roche limit? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gangis ( 310282 ) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @12:24AM (#12506424) Journal
    I'm no astronomer, but I remember hearing in Astronomy class about the Roche Limit, the absolute minimum distance that an orbiting body can be from a planet before it'd be disintegrated by the gravity. I also remember hearing that Saturn's rings could have been developed as a result of objects falling within the Roche Limit and disintegrating, thus adding to the ring. This object seems much larger than most of the ones in the ring structure, though. I find that really odd. But then again, IANAA. :P
    • Re:Roche limit? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The Rings are inside the Roche limit, which is the point where tidal forces will destroy a satellite. However, the Roche limit assumes a liquid body. A small solid body has enough physical strength to hold itself together even inside the Roche limit.
    • Re:Roche limit? (Score:5, Informative)

      by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:58AM (#12507217)
      The Roche limit only works for large bodies, when you assume that the moon is only held together by its own gravity.

      For very small, rocky moons, the tensile strenght of the rock itselv enabls them to exist nearer than the roche limit. Its nothing extremely longtime-stable, but otoh, the tidal forces on a small moon arent very large.

      Also, the roche limit is only a contant (*R_bigplanet or so) if the bodies have the same density. If the objects is, for example, a captured iron asteroid, its roche limit can be VERY close to a not very dense saturn.
    • In other words... "i'm no astronomer.... and that's no moon"?
  • Images! (Score:2, Informative)

    Cool images and data:
    Map and Images of Titan [] from Hubble Space Telescope
    Nasa Titan Photojournal []
    Saturnian Satellite Fact Sheet []
    Phoebe [] best image so far, from Voyager2 in 1981!
  • by qurk ( 87195 ) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @12:43AM (#12506518)
    At least this money is going to find new and useful things. Unlike my state (Kansas) which seems to think that the board of education needs to make us all a laughingstock and put their damn religion in our schools in every science textbook. Why not just require a class, like "Majority religion/philosophy-science indocrination". Look, I learned a LOT from reading Isaac Asimov essays, is there a reason I had to go the the library and check out books of essays from a science fiction author to learn about science? Ya! My state board of education is really badass, getting the job done, and is really cool!
    • How is naming an object orbiting Saturn a moon a good use of your tax dollars?

      On the other hand, your State Board of Education wants you to really THINK about where you came from, and not simply accept the implausible idea that God did it in six days nor the unlikely explanation that it just happened, and kept on just happening, for billions of years. They want you to question your assumptions, and to know what you're taking on faith.

      You choose to put your faith in Isaac Asimov. Fine - you get the answe
  • Interesting that... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vikstar ( 615372 ) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @12:45AM (#12506524) Journal
    the waves caused are asymetric, as if the moon is moving faster than the immediately surrounding debris. But thats impossible, because it would move the moon to a higher orbit, or the debris to a lower one, right? Can anyone explain this seemingly wierd phenomenon? Also notice the waves caused on the inner darker ring, what is the cause of that?
    • Footfall! []

      They first appear as a series of dots on astronomical plates, heading from Saturn directly toward Earth...


  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @02:43AM (#12506964) Journal
    ... unsually large particle in Saturn's ring system??
  • umm... can anyone explain why they dont send color cameras into space? every picture seems to be either black and white or post-processed into some wierd infra-something false color. give us real color! the truth is out there!
    • by Mikey-San ( 582838 ) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:41AM (#12507161) Homepage Journal
      Imagine being in England for a moment. It's 3 a.m., and you're sitting on one side of the Thames River.

      Your friend Bob is perched in his chair on the other side.

      Your camera's all set up and ready to snap a picture. Just when you're about to snap, you realize that the nearest streetlight is three miles to Bob's left. Seeing that the Thames isn't a sneeze's distance across, you know that the dinky flash on your camera is pretty useless.

      You whip out your trusty imaging spectrometer camera lens and line up the shot with Bob again. Bob's giving off some good x-ray emissions, and those come across just fine.

      You could've used a really, really awesome lens and captured a bad photo of Bob--he still reflects some light, though it's a ridiculously small amount--but the IR lens gave you a more descriptive picture of Bob. Why? Mr Bob the Planet Man doesn't give off his own visible light, but he certainly emits x-rays on his own.

      This scales higher:

      In this new-but-similar scenario, you're flying over England. You're trying to take a picture of Bob and his lazy ass, but all you can see, no matter how much light you shine down onto the city below, are the lights from the buildings, bridges, and streetlamps. There's just too much noise to find ol' Bob in that galaxy of lumens.

      You've got all these lights shining on Bob, but unlike the first scenario, there's /too much/ light to see Bob; all you see are stars, so to speak, drowning out the nearby planets. Well, in x-ray mode, your camera can see that while those stars are emitting x-rays, so is Bob, just like before. You're not seeing a faint image of Bob drowned out by the only light illuminating him, you see Bob's x-ray signature approximately ten feet to the right of that cluster of streetligts.

      The universe is a dark place, but sometimes it can be TOO bright! It's a good thing I remembered a towel!
    • by bcwright ( 871193 ) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @03:45AM (#12507179)
      Resolution. Most space cameras work by detecting light falling on a CCD (Charge-Coupled Device); if the camera was full color, then the resolution would be cut by at least 2/3 because you'd have to devote 1/3 of the CCD to each of the primary colors. (It might be even worse than that if your imaging system wasn't 100% efficient at directing the color components to the proper pels on the CCD). You can obtain the effect of a color camera by using different lens filters and taking multiple pictures and then composing them into a single image - this is what's usually done when a color photograph is desired. By doing that you can produce an image that's exactly what you could obtain with a color camera, but at a higher resolution and without having to use a higher resolution CCD. Also, that way your pictures aren't limited to using a selection of color components that are compatible with those the human eye sees - you can use the filters to "see" parts of the spectrum outside the range that's visible to the human eye.
    • People have already more or less addressed this, but I'll speak up anyway.

      They DO send color cameras into space. After a fashion. You have surely seen the color images taken by Cassini's ISS instrument already, so you know that it is possible. To do this, they put various filters in place and expose the CCD to take the image. The colors are then combined (with extreme love and care to get accurate color, in many cases) to make a color image. However, this clearly takes at least three times the exposur
  • It would be excellent if it was possible to somehow photograph individual rocks in the rings.
  • The name (Score:2, Funny)

    by jlebrech ( 810586 )
    Hey they even called the planet after the Sega Saturn, why not called this new moon Dreamcast.
  • by jridley ( 9305 )
    I think you mean newly discovered moon. I don't think moons are currently being manufactured.
  • This object already has a name. It's called a shepherd moon. There's probably at least one in every ring gap.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.