NASA captures the rare birth of a new Saturn moon, announcing Tuesday April 15, Saturn’s complex ring system has given birth to a new Saturn moon. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft which has been providing the space agency with nearly a decade of scientific data about Saturn, its moons and ring system, captured the birth process of the icy moon. The moon was born within the complex ring system of the gas planet, taking nearly a year to form itself. It has been speculated that this may be Saturn’s last natural satellite, giving scientists a rare opportunity. Saturn harbors many fascinating moons, from the methane sea clouds of Titan to the ocean bearing Enceladus, Saturn has added yet another fascinating moon for the space agency to research.
Literally a year ago from the exact date April 15, NASA’s revered Cassini spacecraft’s narrow angled cameras accidentally recorded several disturbances on the very edge of the A ring of Saturn. The A ring is the outermost ring in the complex but beautiful ring system of Saturn. It was reported that a single disturbance was measured around 750 miles long and 6 miles wide, and was nearly 20 percent brighter than its surrounding area. It was also seen through the captured images unusual protuberance or lumps in the usually slick profiles of the rings outer edge. It is hypothesized that the protuberances are in fact the birth of a moon leaving the ring to become its own orbiting entity, reinforcing the space agency’s legacy as NASA captures the rare birth of a new moon for Saturn.
It has been calculated that the icy moon is most likely no larger than a kilometer in diameter, making it nearly impossible to see in images as of now. Researchers have been able to capture images, as seen above, is evidence of the protuberance on the A rings outer edge.
NASA recognizes Saturn as having 53 official moons and 9 more provisional moons. The moons generally vary in size based on their proximity to the gas ringed planet. Typically the larger the moon the farther away from Saturn the moon resides and vice versa. It is evident that most of these moons are made primarily of ice, including Saturn’s newest moon, complimenting the idea proposed by researchers who speculate that icy moons form from the ring particles before moving outward out of the ring system. It is also believed by NASA scientists, the older and oldest moons must have formed when Saturn’s rings were more substantial, coalescing to become larger merging moons. The explanation calls for logic that emits that as moons form at the edge of the rings, it depletes the rings as they evolve.
As NASA captures the rare birth of a new Saturn moon, it has been hypothesized that Saturn’s rings are now too depleted to create any more moons, meaning this birth of a new moon is a rare and possibly last chance for NASA researchers to witness a birth of a moon. The space agency continues providing the world with new and inspiring discoveries, contributing to it ongoing legacy.
Commentary by Zane Foley