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Saturn Moon Has Oxygen Atmosphere

An oxygen atmosphere has been found on Saturn's second largest moon, Rhea, astronomers announced Thursday—but don't hold your breath for colonization opportunities. For one thing, the 932-mile-wide (1,500-kilometer-wide), ice-covered moon is more than 932 million miles (1.5 billion kilometers) from Earth. For another, the average surface temperature is -292 degrees Fahrenheit (-180 degrees Celsius). And at less than 62 miles (100 kilometers) thick, the newfound oxygen layer is so thin that, at Earthlike temperatures and pressure, Rhea's entire atmosphere would fit in a single midsize building. Still, the discovery implies that worlds with oxygen-filled air may not be so unusual in the cosmos. (Related: "Potentially Habitable Planets Are Common, Study Says.") At about 327,000 miles (527,000 kilometers) from Saturn, Rhea orbits inside the planet's magnetic field. Knowing where and how oxygen exists in the universe may in turn help scientists plan future robotic and manned missions.

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Dark Jupiter May Haunt Edge of Solar System A century of comet data suggests a dark, Jupiter-sized object is lurking at the solar system’s outer edge and hurling chunks of ice and dust toward Earth. “We’ve accumulated 10 years’ more data, double the comets we viewed to test this hypothesis,” said planetary scientist John Matese of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. “Only now should we be able to falsify or verify that you could have a Jupiter-mass object out there.” In 1999, Matese and colleague Daniel Whitmire suggested the sun has a hidden companion that boots icy bodies from the Oort Cloud, a spherical haze of comets at the solar system’s fringes, into the inner solar system where we can see them. In a new analysis of observations dating back to 1898, Matese and Whitmire confirm their original idea: About 20 percent of the comets visible from Earth were sent by a dark, distant planet. “But we began to ask, what kind of an object could you hope to infer from the present data that we are seeing?”

Strange massive tear in the solar surface- Earth quivers So, if this mystery object which is much larger than a comet – supposedly several times the size of the earth – were to come into range of the sun to be incinerated, would it not produce pretty much the larger ‘holes’ that we see here? Could NONE of it really be left? I notice that all the talk of Planet X has ceased. NASA ‘they say’ mentioned this object, and then disavowed having mentioned it.

Enceladus Saturn II Enceladus ("en SEL a dus") is the eighth of Saturn's known satellites: orbit: 238,020 km from Saturn diameter: 498 km mass: 7.30e19 kg Sights and Sounds of Titan Sights and Sounds of Titan The European Space Agency's Huygens probe has landed on Saturn's giant moon Titan. Listen to this story via streaming audio, a downloadable file, or get help. January 16, 2005: Congratulations, ESA! The European Space Agency's (ESA's) Huygens probe, carried to Saturn by the Cassini spacecraft, parachuted to the surface of Saturn's giant moon Titan on Friday, Jan. 14th, revealing finally what lies beneath Titan's thick orange clouds.

Radiation Rings Hint Universe Was Recycled Over and Over Most cosmologists trace the birth of the universe to the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. But a new analysis of the relic radiation generated by that explosive event suggests the universe got its start eons earlier and has cycled through myriad episodes of birth and death, with the Big Bang merely the most recent in a series of starting guns. That startling notion, proposed by theoretical physicist Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford in England and Vahe Gurzadyan of the Yerevan Physics Institute and Yerevan State University in Armenia, goes against the standard theory of cosmology known as inflation. The researchers base their findings on circular patterns they discovered in the cosmic microwave background, the ubiquitous microwave glow left over from the Big Bang.

Scientific shifts go beyond the zodiac By Alan Boyle, Science Editor, NBC News It seems that the world was shocked to learn this week that astrology no longer reflects astronomical realities. But such shifts are merely part of the routine in a changing universe. Enceladus Enceladus [en-SELL-ah-dus] is one of the brightest objects in our solar system. Covered in water ice that reflects sunlight like freshly fallen snow, Enceladus reflects almost 100 percent of the sunlight that strikes it. Because Enceladus reflects so much sunlight, the surface temperature is extremely cold, about -201° C (-330° F). About as wide as Arizona, Enceladus is quite similar in size to Mimas but has a smoother, brighter surface. Unlike Mimas, Enceladus displays at least five different types of terrain. Parts of the moon show craters no larger than 35 kilometers (about 22 miles) in diameter.

The Unsolved Mystery of Saturn's Hexagon -4 Times the Size of Earth "Cassini is indebted to Voyager for its many fascinating discoveries and for pavingthe way for Cassini," says Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at JPL, who started her career working on Voyager from 1977 to 1989. "On Cassini, we still compare our data to Voyager's and proudly build on Voyager's heritage." But the Voyager Mission left a few mysteries that Cassini has not yet solved. One of the most perplexing mysteries is Saturn's hexagpn.

In Flyby of Saturn's Moon Rhea, Cassini Probe Gets First Whiff of Non-Earthly Oxygen NASA's Cassini spacecraft has taken a breath of oxygen while passing over the icy surface of Saturn's second-largest moon, marking the first time a spacecraft has directly sampled oxygen in the atmosphere of another body. Cruising just 60 miles above Rhea, one of more than 60 moons orbiting Saturn, Cassini found an extremely thin atmosphere of oxygen and carbon dioxide likely sustained by high-energy particles slamming into the moon's frozen surface. Rhea's isn't the only other atmosphere in the universe, but it is so thin that Cassini had to fly through it just to confirm that it was there at all (other atmosphere's have been detected and studied from afar by tools like the Hubble Space Telescope). According to Cassini's onboard science instruments, Rhea's atmosphere contains something like 50 billion oxygen molecules per cubic meter, matched by 20 billion carbon dioxide molecules.

A Fizzy Ocean on Enceladus A Fizzy Ocean on Enceladus January 26, 2011: For years researchers have been debating whether Enceladus, a tiny moon floating just outside Saturn's rings, is home to a vast underground ocean. Is it wet--or not? Now, new evidence is tipping the scales. Strongest evidence yet indicates Enceladus hiding saltwater ocean This image shows icy spray spewing from Saturn's moon, Enceladus. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute The new discovery was made during the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn , a collaboration of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. Launched in 1997, the mission spacecraft arrived at the Saturn system in 2004 and has been touring the giant ringed planet and its vast moon system ever since.