BEACON TRANSCRIPT – As Cassini spacecraft flew by Saturn’s moons this December, it took various pictures of the cosmic object and now NASA shows image of unseen moon.
The discoveries made in astronomy last year were definitely impressive and left us wanting to learn more about the universe. The Cassini spacecraft has been flying around Saturn and its moons, getting many images of the cosmic objects. The images as well as some various samples should help astronomers to understand more about the moons of this planet.
Enceladus was especially interesting as it is believed that the massive ice blocks covering the moon might actually also cover water. If water does exist on Enceladus then it means life could also exist underwater. NASA is planning to land there in the future and dig deep enough to find water and supposedly, life.
While saying ‘goodbye’ to Saturn, Cassini managed to capture images of three of the planets moons. However, only two of them are visible, while the third remains hidden. One of the visible moons is Enceladus at about 313 miles across. Enceladus can be spotted above Saturn’s rings.
The other visible moon is Rhea. Although not very impressive in aspect, Rhea is very large and definitely stands out in the image being 949 miles across and stands below the rings. The picture was taken from a distance of approximately 1.8 million miles.
The unseen moon in the picture is Atlas which is only 19 miles across but can be visible if you take a closer look just above the outermost ring. Although being so small might make it less impressive, Atlas has a differentiating feature – an equatorial ridge, similar to a seam across the middle of the cosmic object.
Why would such a design be special? Because it is quite unique. From all of the cosmic objects discovered so far, including Saturn’s sixty-two moons, only Atlas, Iapetus and Pan are displaying an equatorial ridge.
Although it is believed that the ridge might be made of dust, rock and ice particles, it has not yet been proven. However, finding Atlas in the picture could be and interesting challenge from NASA, to keep us busy while they’re trying to figure out what’s with the moon’s ridge.
Image source: news.nationalgeographic.com