A new study reveals a curious connection between Saturn’s moon Rhea and its neighbor Titan.
Second largest The planet in the solar system, Saturn is ornamented by icy rings and is orbited by a verbal herd of about 80 moons.
These satellites have their own unique properties, some so unusual and intriguing that they outlive other lunar bodies found throughout the solar system, including our own natural companion, the Moon.
One of these strange celestial bodies is Saturn’s second largest moon, Riya. The moon can be a cold, airless object, but it has three narrow, dense rings – a mirror of its host planet. These rings have been discovered for the first time around a moon. Rhea’s unique features don’t end there, though – previous spectroscopy studies hinted at an unknown substance on the lunar surface.
And now, old Cassini data can solve this long lunar mystery.
A study published on Friday in the journal detailed the new findings Science advance.
Here is the background – It is the second largest moon orbiting around Saturn – whose radius is 475 miles. The moon is locked around Saturn, meaning that one side of Riya faces a large planet continuously. It completes an entire orbit of the gas giant in 4.5 Earth days.
Riya is a cold, harsh world. Its temperature ranges from -281 degrees Fahrenheit to -364 degrees Fahrenheit. Considering the cold temperature, the moon is largely composed of water ice.
The mystery of Riya’s surface began decades ago, when NASA’s Cassini spacecraft flew by Rhea as part of its mission to explore Saturn and its moons. Cassini performed a spectrographic analysis, which collected ultraviolet imaging data of the moon and its chemical makeup, confirming that its surface was composed of ice. But there was also evidence of an unknown material in the data.
A 3D model of Riya, the moon of Saturn, created by NASA Visualization Technology Application and Development.
How did they do it – Bhalamurugan Sivaraman is an Associate Professor in Physical Research Laboratory in India and co-author of the new study. he says In the shlokas His team sought to investigate the chemical nature of this mysterious sign. To do this, the team returned the original Cassini data.
“We used data from the Cassini Archive to understand what’s really going on,” says Sivaraman..
The team reconciled the data collected by one of Cassini’s Rhea flybases, and ran experiments on Earth to see if they could identify the chemical makeup of the molecules that produced unknown absorption bands .
The team behind the new study analyzed the data collected by Cassini’s Rhea Flyby, and conducted laboratory experiments to test various molecules and see who would have produced the unknown signal.
What they found By walking through potential candidates, researchers eventually hit upon the potential culprit: hydrangeaine. According to the study, this is the first time a compound has been detected on a moon.
“When we experimented for Hydrazine, it was a match,” Sivaraman says.
Hydrangeaine is an inorganic compound, a colorless liquid with a pungent odor similar to ammonia. Here on Earth, it is used as a propellant for pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and spacecraft.
To understand where hydrangein might come from, Sivaraman and his colleagues necessarily tried to recreate Rhea’s surface condition in the lab.
Curiously, these simulations suggested Rhea’s lunar neighbor, Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, what may have to do with the presence of hydrangein. Titan is emitting nitrogen molecules toward Rhea, which will then interact with radiation on the moon to convert nitrogen into hydrangeaine, the researchers suggest.
This type of interaction between two moons is a rare commodity in our solar system. Given how big the Titan is, it is likely that the Moon will exert some influence on the objects around it, Sivaraman explains.
What will happen next? Given that this is the first detection of hydrazine on a moon, the team behind the study wants to see if hydrogen is produced elsewhere in the solar system. They also suspect that more unknown chemistry may be awaited.
Sivaraman says, “This particular work helps us identify another molecule, which we did not know before.”
“We would like to find molecules that are being absorbed at other wavelengths as well.”
abstract: We present the first analysis of the far-ultraviolet reflectance spectra of regions on the RIA leading and trailing hemispheres collected by the Cassini ultraviolet imaging spectrograph during targeted flyby. In particular, we aim to elucidate the unknown broad absorption feature centered near 184 nm. We have used laboratory measurements of UV spectroscopy of a set of candidate molecules and found a good fit to Rhea’s spectra with molecules containing hydrazine monohydrate and several chlorine. Given the radiation-enhanced chemistry on the surface of icy satellites embedded within their planetary magnetospheres, hydrangeaine monohydrate is argued to be the most plausible candidate to explain the absorption feature at 184 nm. Hydrogen was also used as a propellant in Cassini’s thrusters, but the thresher was not used during icy satellite flybys, and thus is thought to indicate that it is not produced by spacecraft fuel. We discuss how hydrogen monohydrate can be chemically produced on icy surfaces.