Monday, August 10, 2009

Lots Of Weird Shit Blowing Up Around The Solar System These Days

First there was the discovery of a new impact scar on Jupiter; then the discovery of a spot on Venus (most likely caused by emissions of a Venusian volcano); now there's this very strange phenomenon witnessed by the Cassini satellite orbiting Saturn. It is as yet unclear exactly what is shown in the picture left, but at this moment the sun is shining directly into rather than down upon the planet's ring system, meaning that every bump and deformity in them sticks out (kind of as though you were looking across an old LP to spot warping): looks for all the world - or worlds — like some small object on an inclined orbit has punched through Saturn’s narrow F ring, bursting out from underneath, and dragging behind it a wake of particles from the rings. The upward-angled structure is definitely real, as witnessed by the shadow it’s casting on the ring material to the lower left. And what’s with the bright patch right where this object seems to have slammed in the rings? Did it shatter millions of icy particles, revealing their shinier interior material, making them brighter? Clearly, something awesome and amazing happened here.


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