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Space Science

Is Mimas Hiding Pac-Man? 99

cremeglace writes "Shaped into the likes of the Death Star of Star Wars fame by the giant crater Herschel, 396-kilometer-diameter Mimas was expected to have its warmest surface temperatures on the equator, where it was early afternoon. Instead, it was warmest in the morning (all of 92 K), giving rise in the science team's temperature-calibrated color scheme to a very large Pac-Man."
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Is Mimas Hiding Pac-Man?

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  • by thomasdz ( 178114 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @12:48PM (#31673150)

    yes, yes it is. Thanks for asking.

  • The crater looks like a pac-dot that he's about to eat.

    And what's with all the questions for headlines recently?

  • by miasmic ( 669645 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @12:53PM (#31673242)
    No, but Uranus is hiding Q*bert!
  • that this was meant to be an April Fools' Day hoax that was released early on accident. :^)

  • Cost per Bit (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They say the Cassini Program costs less -per bit of data sent- than an SMS.
    If you've got some hard math on that, please post it.

    • Re:Cost per Bit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lordholm ( 649770 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @01:06PM (#31673470) Homepage

      No, there have however been discussion on the cost of the downlink from the Hubble space telescope: []

      In essence, a sending data via text will give you bills for around GBP 350 per MB. The funny thing with this is of-course that sending texts is basically for the operator free of charge as it is only using excess capacity of the mobile networks, that is, text messages have no guaranteed delivery and will simply be dropped in case a link is congested. The only cost that texts infer are the operational costs with maintaining the servers that manages the texts, but you cannot expect that that will be a very high cost.

      • I wish I could find some data on this, but I've always suspected that the largest cost comes from billing the customer.

        Probably isn't true, but still fun to think about.

        • I wish I could find some data on this, but I've always suspected that the largest cost comes from billing the customer.

          That could easily be the largest part of the telco's cost.

          Obviously the largest part of what they charge you is their profit-taking. Which is why it's oh so worth it for them to bill you for it even if billing was 100% of their costs. :)

          Also, my understanding is that SMS uses empty space in synchronization packets the telcos already are sending as a matter of course (which is why the limit

      • text messages have no guaranteed delivery and will simply be dropped in case a link is congested

        WTF? I paid for that thing! I paid 3500 times the actual price! And they dare to not deliver it?? That’s called fraud, and will land them in court, if they ever try that on me!

        Ok, I know that it’s about 3500 times the actual price, because I’m using an instant messenger on my phone, and I can send roughly 3500 messages of SMS size trough it, to get to the same price for the data, as a single SMS message would cost.

  • Worst... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kadagan AU ( 638260 ) <kadagan@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @01:02PM (#31673402) Journal
    Worst summary ever...
    • Yeah. I saw "Pac Man" and "Death Star" and "Herschel" but you have to read half the summary before you even get to the key word that tells you wtf its talking about, which is to say Mimas. And I still didn't know what that is until I clicked the article to see wtf it was talking about. Its a moon of Saturn I guess, but the summary is only of any interest to people who know exactly what it was talking about already. Lacking knowledge of the solar system beyond the planets and our own moon, the summary might
      • I disagree.

        It grabbed your interest enough to go read the article, without giving you enough detail that you didn't need to read the article at all.

        I'd say they nailed it. If all summaries were like this, we wouldn't have to say "RTFA!!" quite so much. We'd still have to say it, because a lot of people don't even read the summary, let alone the article, but every little bit helps.

    • I agree, I had to read several times before it made any sense. Looks like a copypasta from the original site.
  • Surface composition? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mindcontrolled ( 1388007 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @01:05PM (#31673446)
    Would be interesting if other spectral bands show the same effect. My first thought would be that it is a difference in surface composition that causes the different heat retention mentioned in TFA. It still is an extremely weird shape for that, with that straight and rather sharp lines. Any ideas what could cause such a triangular boundary? Only thing that comes to my mind right now is that it looks like a bow wave, or a shock wave boundary.
    • My first thought was that it could be the shadow of that large crater keeping the area cooler. But I don't really know the scale of whats involved there, nor did I read the article :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Here's a badly thought out notion: sharp demarcations on moon-sized and larger bodies are generally associated with "lighting" from a side at an angle from the observer (zB: a half moon). so what we're looking at here is two sources of illumination against Mimas; or (even crazier?) Mimas is illuminated by a single source (i dunno... the sun?) and has two main stable orbital orientations. Pretty unlikely oddball theory, i know, but i'm still on my first coffee.
      • For a pure lighting-induced phenomena, wouldn't the demarcations follow great circles? This doesn't look too spherical at all, which makes it so weird for me.
    • While I don't know the orbital configuration of Mimas with respect to nearby entities (and yes, I am too lazy to look it up right now) I wonder if it could be caused by overlapping radiation profiles from various sources. For instance, Saturn itself must have enough albedo and planet-shine to present some sort heating effect on its moons. Similarly, its rings probably reflect enough sunlight to present a radiation profile to nearby objects. Furthermore, some of the larger moons, while very cool, must also r
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Sounds interesting. From another, not extremely more informative source, I got at least the temperature range - the bright yellow is at about 93K, the blue is colder at 77K. The center of Herschel crater is at about 84K. To hell with productivity - let's find out how this works... :)
    • like, I dont't know, something large smacking a crater into the surface? it's extremely likely they crater formation was not because an asteroid went straight in, but at an angle,
      and HEY! maybe- just maybe (sarcasm not directed at OP) the same crater maker threw out some material from deeper beneath the surface- which was a different composition -and all around the crater.

      • But doesn't it look a bit off with regard to Herschel crater? I have to admit that I don't really have a competent idea here - astronomy is not my field. But wouldn't you expect ejecta pattern for an angled impact to form a someone more continuous curve without the sharp angle in the center section? Something remotely resembling a parabola? Besides, would the round shape of the crater itself not suggest a rather straight impact?
        • by Richy_T ( 111409 )

          Angled impacts produce round craters. It's a bit counter intuitive but you can prove it to yourself with a bag of flour.

    • Any ideas what could cause such a triangular boundary?

      10 minutes in Photoshop. Perspective-correct straight lines across a curved surface are really, really, really rare.

    • It still is an extremely weird shape for that, with that straight and rather sharp lines.

      They aren't *that* straight or sharp; there's buldges and gaps and the point is pretty rounded. Not that it's directly comparable, but I've seen much more precise triangular shapes created in shale rock outcroppings.

      Only thing that comes to my mind right now is that it looks like a bow wave, or a shock wave boundary.

      Yeah same here.

      It's fascinating, that's for sure.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Will the neighboring satellites turn blue and change direction?

  • by Lectoid ( 891115 ) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @01:06PM (#31673476)
    That's no moon... oh wait, sorry, yes it is.
    • by ZosX ( 517789 )

      And I was just about ready to fire a "Cue that's no moon in 3... 2... 1..." post!

      • by ZosX ( 517789 )

        Weird that lost post just broke slashdot. Boy is the D2 getting buggy these days......

  • ... you're just holding the picture at the wrong angle.

  • Too confusing; couldn't understand. So, what orientation does Mimas need to be in to make it early afternoon everywhere along the equator?

  • I had been wondering for years where he went.
  • I keep checking the date. It's not April 1st anywhere yet, is it?
  • "Portion of this graph that looks like Pac-Man."

  • ...Please insert coin to continue []...
  • by Rude Turnip ( 49495 ) <valuation&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @01:29PM (#31673900)

    The long-lost backstory on Pac-Man has its origins in space, too! Of course, every geek probably knows this already:

    In 1976, Cosmonaut Nikolai Peckmann was sent alone to an orbiting space station for what would be called Mission Six- to study the radiation levels and strange circumstances that killed all four crewmen of the last research mission.

    By the third day, Peckmann's broken transmissions were coming back to ground control filled with increasing paranoia and delusion. He claimed that the spirits of the dead cosmonauts were coming to claim him, and that he had to keep moving to evade them. He shouted that if he could capture consume these spirits himself while he still had strength, he could move to the next level of consciousness...Truly the rantings of an insane man.

    Indeed, video recovered later would show Peckmann running around the confined but maze-like station, downing emergency sedatives like a madman....pausing in a corner momentarily, only to throw back vitamin pills and give chase to his invisible demons.
    He had exhausted the entire cargo of vitamins, pills, and fresh fruit well ahead of schedule. There was no way another crew could be assembled to rescue him before he starved. After one rather violently garbled transmission, the static cleared and the last live image on record is that of Peckmann's empty, wilted spacesuit on the cabin floor.

    It was determined that another mission to recover any remains or gather any more research would be a waste of the people's money, and the station was allowed to drift out of orbit and into space- a failure never to be mentioned again. It was ordered and assumed that all video and paper evidence had been destroyed.

    • It was determined that another mission to recover any remains or gather any more research would be a waste of the people's money, and the station was allowed to drift out of orbit and into space- a failure never to be mentioned again

      That's what they wanted you to think. The reality is, there was one more mission, spearheaded by either Peckmann's widow or possibly sister (her relation to Peckmann was always a bit of mystery due to the use of "Ms."). Unfortunately, Ms. Peckmann suffered the same fate. Ma

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Every geek also knows that story is a complete fabrication (you could at least wait until April 1st to repost it). You could probably get Fox to greenlight it though, considering they've purportedly just sunk to inking a deal [] to make a sequel to Independence Day (I just hope that one is an April Fool's joke too).
    • Here is the artwork [] to go along with your story. I believe this is the original artist. Could be wrong.
  • just wait until pinky and clyde show up from around the side of saturn

  • That is what I thought when I read it.
    And seriously, why do they have tri-color on a temperature scale?

    A quantity that has one dimension, such as temperature can be a graded scale of a single color and when you use purple and mauve and hot pink it simply confuses the interpretation. If you were trying to represent two or three dimensions of data then I could see that using RGB would allow quick interpretation of the data once an association was learned, however in this case it simply serves to obscure the

    • Here's why []

      Specifically: "Pseudo-coloring can make some details more visible, by increasing the distance in color space between successive gray levels."

      • It was a rhetorical [] question. It is a figure of speech, like having the name idontgnome for a KDE fan.
        I can make a python script in gimp that translates a gray scale to color so I comprehend that data can be represented in many ways including adding dimensions by converting gray scale to a bump map.
        My real question was whether the image actually imparted more information in the form of false coloring or if it made the matter more confusing like a term paper with so many different fonts that it looks like
  • That's just COOL! Too bad the writer of the article didn't know enough about Pac Man to realize that he's about to much on a Power Pellet and eat all the ghost-Thetans that are coming his way after liberation by the Scientologists!

  • Omnomnomnom
    • i know its bad form to respond to your own comment, but it just dawned on me that that was already in the tags :(
  • This is obiously a message from pac-man that he wants us to be reminded of his eternal love. If every Jesus shapped food item has this kind of meating then that is the only conclusion I can draw.

  • Cassini has put his thumb into the frame again.

  • Now if this image is a representation of temperature difference, and the shape colored like Pac-Man represents a warmer area... one might say that Mimas has "Pac-Man Fever".

  • These aren't the moons you're looking for.

  • ...let me know if and when they find a giant Miner Willy [] on Titan or something.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser