Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Science & Space

NASA's Cassini may have detected birth of new moon of Saturn

See also

NASA reported on Monday that the Cassini space probe may have witnessed the birth of a new moon of Saturn. The findings were the result of observations taken of Saturn’s outer most ring on April 15, 2013. The observation provides some insight as to how some of Saturn’s icy moons were formed in the first place, soon after the solar system was formed.

NASA scientists have postulated the existence of the new moon, now informally known as Peggy, because of disturbances created in the outer ring system. The disturbances were likely created by a hitherto unknown object, it is suggested. The new moon is too small to actually image directly, however, measuring perhaps a kilometer across. It may even be falling apart due to Saturn’s gravitational forces.

Scientists theorize that Peggy is an ice moon that formed out of the material in Saturn’s rings and is now moving slowly away from the planet. They suspect that in eons past, the rings of Saturn were much bigger, but then some of them coalesced to form some of the larger moons such as Titan and Enceladus, depleting the rings as they were created and moved away from the planet. Indeed a similar process likely created the planets of the Solar System, including Earth, billions of years ago.

Cassini, launched in 1997, went into orbit around Saturn in 2004 and has been studying that planet, its rings, and system of moons ever since. Saturn has proven to be a richly diverse system. It includes the ice moon of Enceladus, with its plume and possible subsurface ocean and Titan with its hydrocarbon lakes and streams. Cassini included the European Space Agency's Huygens probe which landed on Titan and provided spectacular images of a alien world. Cassini’s mission is scheduled to continue through at least 2017.

Advertisement

News

  • Baseball Hall of Fame
    The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown welcomes six new inductees
    Video
    Video
  • 2012 do-over
    If we were to re-do the 2012 election, a new poll suggests Romney would win
    Politics
  • Boko Haram
    Boko Haram kidnaps the wife of the vice prime minister of Cameroon
    World News
  • Ceasefire breaks
    Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu claims Hamas broke another brief ceasefire
    Gaza
  • Close call with CME
    Scientists tell how Earth survived a giant solar flare back in 2012
    Space
  • Comic-Con
    What's going on at Comic-Con? Get all the latest updates here
    Comic-Con