Close flyby spacecraft Cassini about Phoebe (Phoebe) has given a lot of amazing pictures that led to the conclusion about the origin of this strange moon of Saturn. Surprises are a small moon — a good start to a multi-year mission of the American unit in the giant planet.
Space probe Cassini has to go into orbit around Saturn late on June 30, 2004 (July 1, Moscow time).
Curiously, while approaching the planet will pass between the unit and its famous rings.
However, one of the important objectives of the station was reached on June 11. Cassini flew at a minimum distance (a little over 2 thousand kilometers) from Phoebe.
The satellite — the most distant from Saturn (nearly 13 million kilometers).
The diameter of Phoebe (planetka has a roughly spherical shape) — 220 kilometers.
Phoebe rotates around Saturn in a direction opposite to the motion of all of its other satellites, as well as the direction of the rotation axis of Saturn.
More Phoebe reflects about 6 percent of the sunlight — this is one of the darkest objects in the solar system.
These features have long forced astronomers to believe that Phoebe — captured a long time ago in a network of Saturn's gravity asteroid.
But recent data make a clarification: most of all — it's an alien from the Kuiper belt — a huge area, which lies on the far edge of the solar system, far beyond the orbit of Pluto.
The belt contains a myriad of frozen blocks of various sizes. It's kind of debris left over there from the time of birth of our planetary little world.
Detailed images of the surface of Phoebe show — mysterious black satellite contains a wealth of bright ice material over which is relatively thin (300-500 meters) dark layer.
The moon's surface is dotted with potholes, large and small craters. Of the many craters (especially large and deep) out bright stripes-rays.
In many cases, the light emission layers of the later overlap dark matter.
It is also interesting that sometimes the walls of large craters on their dark areas visible light exposure and landslides caused probably by later impacts of smaller meteorites directly into the wall of the crater, and the tremors from nearby meteorite impacts.
All this is fundamentally different views of Phoebe from the pictures taken with the same resolution previously on any asteroids.
Dr. Alfred McEwen (Alfred McEwen), a member of the scientific team mission Cassini-Huygens, said the following: "Phoebe — a world of dramatic shapes, with craters, landslides, and linear structures such as canyons, mountain ranges, valleys and chains.
They — the keys to the intrinsic properties of Phoebe, which we will study in order to understand the origin of the satellite and its development. "
"I think these images show us an ancient remnant of bodies that were formed more than four billion years ago in the outer reaches of the solar system," — said McEvoy colleague Dr. Torrence Johnson (Torrence Johnson).
Analysis of the data collected using the tools of the interplanetary probe will continue for a very long time, but it is clear that the passage of Phoebe gave much food for thought in relation to the earliest stages of life of the solar system.
Then it's time to say a few words about the unit. The orbital module carries 12 scientific instruments.
This variety of cameras and spectrometers, operating in the visible, infrared and ultraviolet wavelengths, spectrometers charged particles and neutral space, radar, different equipment for measuring magnetic analyzer cosmic dust and so on.
All this wealth is powered by three radioisotope thermoelectric generators.
On the descent probe Huygens, which is now docked to Cassini, and which is destined to land on Titan — a giant satellite with an atmosphere and possibly the ocean — six scientific instruments.
More precisely — it's six major units, each of which is equipped with the widest range of sensors.
They will measure the physical, chemical and electrical characteristics of Titan's atmosphere, try to reveal a picture of it winds will collect samples of gases and aerosols, and after landing will know — hit the probe on the surface of a solid or liquid, and what are its physical and chemical properties.
Huygens landing on Titan is scheduled for January 2005.
A Cassini waiting 52 closer to the family of the 31 moons of Saturn. Since the time of flight "Voyager" was not in space as large-scale study of remote corners of the solar system. So the main surprises yet to come.
News.Battery.Ru — Accumulator News, 17.06.2004 9:32