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  • No Elvis on Mars, But Pac-Man on Mimas
    Posted by Graham Warwick 2:24 PM on Mar 30, 2010

    Space scientists are puzzling over the strange image returned by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on its closest fly-by of Saturn's inner moon Mimas in early February. Instead of the expected smooth distribution of daytime temperatures, Cassini's infrared spectrometer revealed Mimas apparently being devoured by computer-game icon Pac-Man.

    blog post photo
    Credit: NASA/JPL/GSFC/SWRI/SSI (?!?)

    The data show the 396km-diameter moon divided into "warm" and "cold" parts, with a sharp V-shaped boundary between them. I use inverted commas because warm on the surface of Mimas is a balmy 92K (-254degF), while cold is a chilly 77K (-320degF). NASA thinks that cold part is colder because of the greater thermal conductivity of the surface in that region.

    But why Pac-Man appears on Mimas is a mystery, the agency says. One possibility is that the giant Herschel Crater, clearly visible in the lower pair of images, is in some way responsible for the larger region of colder temperatures around it.

    Now back to looking for Elvis on Mars...

    blog post photo
    Credit: NASA (via Wikipedia)

    Tags: os99, NASA, Cassini, Saturn

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