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Moons Hubble Space io transit of jupiter esahubble Space Hubble Moons

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Moons Hubble Space

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The Cassini Imaging Team discovered Methone (pronounced me-thoh-nee) on June 1, 2004. This tiny moon orbits between two of Saturn's mid-sized icy moons, Mimas and Enceladus, at a radius of about 194,000 kilometers (120,456 miles) from its planet. Astronomers have suggested two differing theories to explain the presence of Methone and two other small sister moons, Pallene and Anthe. The first theory indicates that the three little moons may have fragmented off of either Mimas or Enceladus. The second theory, on the other hand, suggests that all five moons--the three small moons and the two mid-size ones--may be the sad remnants of a larger menagerie of moons that floated around in that area--which is situated close to Saturn. Methone orbits its gigantic parent planet in 24 hours.



The discovery of a moon for Makemake may have solved one perplexing puzzle concerning this distant, icy object. Earlier infrared studies of the dwarf planet showed that while Makemake's surface is almost entirely frozen and bright, some areas seem to be warmer than other areas. Astronomers had suggested that this discrepancy may be the result of our Sun warming certain dark patches on Makemake's surface. However, unless Makemake is in a special orientation, these mysterious dark patches should cause the ice dwarf's brightness to vary substantially as it rotates. But this amount of variability has not been observed.



Earlier theories suggested that the craggy outline of a region of the lunar surface, named Oceanus Procellarum--or the Ocean of Storms--had resulted from a large asteroid impact. If this theory had been correct, the basin it had dug out would represent the largest asteroid impact basin scarring the lunar surface. However, mission scientists, scrutinizing GRAIL data, now believe that they have discovered new evidence that the craggy outline of this rectangular region--approximately 1,600 miles across--was actually caused by the formation of ancient rift valleys.