Image of the Day: Saturn's Moon, Rhea -1st Alien World Discovered to Have an Oxygen Atmosphere Oxygen
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November 30, 2010

Image of the Day: Saturn's Moon, Rhea -1st Alien World Discovered to Have an Oxygen Atmosphere Oxygen

RHEA

In March 2010, The NASA Cassini spacecraft flew only 97 kilometers (60 miles) above the surface of Saturn’s moon Rhea and found that it has an atmosphere composed of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This is the first time a moon of Saturn has been discovered to have an atmosphere. The spacecraft actually flew through the "tenuous" atmosphere held together by high-energy particles from Saturn that constantly hit the surface of Rhea.

The NASA spacecraft found that the atmosphere is very thin, with the oxygen in the atmosphere reported to be about five trillion times less than the oxygen within Earth’s atmosphere.

They report in the abstract to the paper the finding of a“tenuous oxygen-carbon dioxide atmosphere” that is “sustained by chemical decomposition of the surface water ice under irradiation from Saturn’s magnetospheric plasma.” Dr. Ben Teolis of the Southwest Research Institute, Space Science & Engineering Division, who led the study says "As the magnetic field rotates around Saturn, particles carried in the field slam into the hemisphere of Rhea that's facing their flow. They hit that hemisphere and break water molecules on the surface. The atoms are then rearranging themselves to make O2 molecules, which are sputtered from the surface by additional impacting particles."

The Cassini researchers added that “The presence of CO2 suggests radiolysis reactions between surface oxidants and organics, or sputtering and/or outgassing of CO2 endogenic to Rhea’s ice. Observations of outflowing positive and negative ions give evidence for pickup ionization as a major atmospheric loss mechanism.”

The research team state that such very thin (tenuous) atmospheres on such moons (and planets) could be very common in the Milky Way galaxy and other such galaxies within the universe.

After completing its mission in June 2008, the mission was renamed Cassini Equinox.
When it ended in September 2010, the spacecraft was renamed a second time to Cassini Solstice. The mission’s extension, which goes through September 2017, is named for the Saturnian summer solstice occurring in May 2017. The northern summer solstice marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere. Since Cassini arrived at Saturn just after the planet's northern winter solstice, the extension will allow for the first study of a complete seasonal period.

Casey Kazan via NASA/JPL

Comments

"This is the first time a moon of Saturn has been discovered to have an atmosphere."

Wrong - have you not heard of Titan?

The atoms are then rearranging themselves to make O2 molecules, which are sputtered from the surface by additional impacting particles.

The northern summer solstice marks the beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere.

Amazing pictures.thanks for your sharing.

The scientists said the oxygen appears to rise to an atmosphere when Saturn’s magnetic field rotates over Rhea. Energetic particles trapped in the planet‘s magnetic field pepper the moon’s water-ice surface. They cause chemical reactions that decompose the surface and release oxygen.”

The Cassini-Huygens mission has identified an oxygen-carbon dioxide atmosphere around Saturn's second-biggest moon, - the first time a spacecraft has captured an oxygen atmosphere from a world

amazing informations and great pictures..


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« This Week's Debate: "Interest in UFOs derives, perhaps, not so much from scientific curiosity as from unfulfilled religious needs.” -Carl Sagan | Main | "Cosmic Seesaw": New Theory Balances Universe's Visible Matter with Antimatter »




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