- January 31, 2021
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject : Science & tech
Context : The tilt of the rotation axis of the gas giant Saturn may in fact be caused by its moons, scientists from CNRS, Sorbonne University and the University of Pisa have reported.
- Recent observations have shown that Titan and the other moons are gradually moving away from Saturn much faster than astronomers had previously estimated.
- The researchers concluded that this process affects the inclination of Saturn’s rotation axis: as its satellites move further away, the planet tilts more and more.
- The current tilt of Saturn’s rotation axis is caused by the migration of its satellites, and especially by that of its largest moon, Titan.
- Saturn is similar to Jupiter, although about one-third the mass. It spins so fast that its diameter at the equator is 10 percent larger than its diameter from pole to pole.
- Saturn has a solid core likely made of rock and ice, which is thought to be many times the mass of Earth.
- Covering this core is a layer of liquid metallic hydrogen, and on top of that are layers of liquid hydrogen and helium.
- These layers conduct strong electric currents that, in turn, generate Saturn’s powerful magnetic field.
- Saturn has 62 confirmed moons, and its largest moon is Titan, which is larger than Earth’s own moon and has a thick, opaque atmosphere.
- Titan is the second-largest moon in the Solar System (larger than Mercury) and it is the only satellite in the Solar System with a substantial atmosphere (nitrogen-rich).
Saturn’s Ring System
- The most spectacular part of Saturn is its magnificent system of planetary rings, which stretch some 300,000 kilometers across. The ring system is divided into three main parts: the bright A and B rings and the dimmer C ring.
- Saturn’s rings are probably made up of billions of particles of ice and ice-covered rocks.
- The Cassini–Huygens mission, commonly called Cassini, was a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency to send a probe to study the planet Saturn and its system, including its rings and natural satellites.
- Dragonfly aims to search for signs of microbial alien life on Saturn’s moon Titan, while navigating its earth-like gravity and aerodynamics in the process.
- The mission will succeed NASA’s Cassini probe, which ended its 13-year mission orbiting Saturn in September 2017 by diving into Saturn’s atmosphere.
- Dragonfly mission is a part of NASA’s New Frontiers program, which includes a series of space exploration missions, which are being conducted with the purpose of researching several of the Solar System bodies, including the dwarf planet Pluto.
- The New Frontiers programme also includes Pluto probe New Horizons, Jupiter probe Juno and OSIRIS-Rex asteroid mission.