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Saturn May Still Be Producing New Satellites

Research in the June 10 issue of Nature deals with a population of smaller Saturnian satellites - Atlas, Prometheus, Pandora, Janus and Epimetheus - linking the origin of those so-called moonlets to the celebrated rings themselves. The study presents the result of a computer simulation of Saturn's dynamic environment, demonstrating how the moonlets, which dwell just beyond the planet's famed main rings, could have formed from material oozing out of the rings and accreting into clumps.
What is more, the moonlets appear to have coagulated in recent astronomical time, implying that more moonlets may be forthcoming.

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Mystery of Saturn's midget moons cracked

For decades, researchers have puzzled over the origin of Saturn's baby moons. According to conventional models, these moons are so small that collisions with comets should have blown them to pieces long ago. Now a group of researchers in France and Britain think they have the answer - and it lies in the planet's icy rings.
Accepted theory says that the giant planets, and their moons, slowly accreted out of a gaseous 'protoplanetary disk' around the Sun some 4.5 billion years ago. Yet Saturn's baby moons never quite fitted this picture. At less than 50 kilometres across, they ought to have been destroyed by comets over that period. And over time, moons tend to recede from the planets they orbit, as indeed our Moon is receding from Earth. But Saturn's moons are in such a close orbit that they would have had to have formed virtually inside the giant planet.

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Les petits satellites de Saturne sont-ils les enfants des anneaux ?

A partir des observations effectuées avec la mission Cassini, une équipe d'astrophysiciens (Université Paris Diderot, CEA, CNRS, Observatoire de Nice Côte d'Azur/INSU) a réalisé une simulation numérique des processus de formation des satellites de Saturne. Ils ont montré que ces satellites, pourtant bien distincts du système d'anneaux de la planète, en sont issus et poursuivent leur « accrétion », alors que leur formation, comme pour les planètes et les satellites du Système solaire, est réputée achevée depuis plusieurs milliards d'années. Ces travaux sont publiés dans la revue Nature du 10 juin.
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Saturn's Moons
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RE: 60 Saturn moons
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Mysterious Patches of Colour Mapped on Saturn's Moons
New maps reveal colourful patterns on the surfaces of Saturn's five innermost icy moons.
Some of the patterns have been seen before, but others took scientists by surprise, suggesting dynamic interactions between the moons and other particles orbiting around Saturn.


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Methone, Anthe and Pallene
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Title: Long-term dynamics of Methone, Anthe and Pallene
Authors: Nelson Callegari Jr., Tadashi Yokoyama

We numerically investigate the long-term dynamics of the Saturn's small satellites Methone (S/2004 S1), Anthe (S/2007 S4) and Pallene (S/2004 S2). In our numerical integrations, these satellites are disturbed by non-spherical shape of Saturn and the six nearest regular satellites. The stability of the small bodies is studied here by analysing long-term evolution of their orbital elements.
We show that long-term evolution of Pallene is dictated by a quasi secular resonance involving the ascending nodes (\Omega) and longitudes of pericentric distances (\varpi) of Mimas (subscript 1) and Pallene (subscript 2), which critical argument is \varpi_2-\varpi_1-\Omega_1+\Omega_2. Long-term orbital evolution of Methone and Anthe are probably chaotic since: i) their orbits randomly cross the orbit of Mimas in time scales of thousands years); ii) numerical simulations involving both small satellites are strongly affected by small changes in the initial conditions.

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Rhea, Enceladus, Mimas, and Tethys
For a very long time the Cassini spaceprobe has been in an orbit that carried it high above and below the plane of the rings. This has been fantastic for observations of the rings and planet during the equinox season, and has permitted some cool observations of Titan's poles (since Cassini always comes back to Titan sooner or later for an orbit-adjusting gravity-assist flyby). But it's meant there's been very little in the way of high-resolution views of the other moons.
With the last Titan flyby on October 12, Cassini came back to an orbit that's nearly in the equatorial plane, and immediately rewarded us with some fine views of several of the icy moons.

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New global colour maps reveal provocative patterns on the surfaces of Saturn's five innermost large icy satellites, namely, Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, and Rhea.
These new maps have been presented in a report by Dr. Paul Schenk of Houston's Lunar and Planetary Institute at the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Puerto Rico.

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New global colour maps reveal provocative patterns on the surfaces of Saturn's five innermost large icy satellites, namely, Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, and Rhea.
These new maps have been presented in a report by Dr. Paul Schenk of Houston''s Lunar and Planetary Institute at the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences meeting in Puerto Rico.
They reveal complex global colour patterns on each of these satellites, including colour asymmetries on four of these moons and equatorial banding on three.
The patterns indicate that particles within the Saturn system have significant effects on the surfaces of these icy bodies.

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