Wobbling of a Saturn moon hints at what lies beneath

October 16, 2014 10:37 PM

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Wobbling of a Saturn moon hints at what lies beneath

Using instruments aboard the Cassini spacecraft to measure the wobbles of Mimas, the closest of Saturn’s regular moons, a Cornell astronomer publishing in Science, Oct. 17, has inferred that this small moon’s icy surface cloaks either a rugby ball-shaped rocky core or a sloshing sub-surface ocean.

“After carefully examining Mimas, we found it librates – that is, it subtly wobbles – around the moon’s polar axis,” Radwan Tajeddine, Cornell research associate in astronomy and lead author of the article. “In physical terms, the back-and-forth wobble should produce about 3 kilometers of surface di...

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