Pac-Man Revealed on Saturn MoonBy Benjamin Opal
Saturn is best known for its beautiful rings, but now one of its moons is raising eyebrows for a heat map that looks just like Pac-Man. Mimas, among the largest of Saturn’s 62 moons, also looks a bit like the Death Star from Star Wars thanks to the large impact crater known as Hershel, but it’s obviously Pac-Man that got our attention. NASA says scientists were working with composite infrared spectrometer images shot by the spacecraft Cassini to map temperatures across Mimas, but they expected an even distribution of heat, rather than a perfect outline of the yellow dot-muncher.
So now everyone’s trying to figure why this phenomenon occurred. The bit of redness around Herschel makes sense, because the crater traps in heat, but Pac-Man himself is a mystery. The shape could be caused by differences in texture or surface, like the distinction between fresh powder and densely-packed snow, but how did it get there in such a distinct pattern? It could be due to the impact of the crater itself, spreading water across the moon. Or icy spray from Saturn’s rings could’ve played a part. No one knows for sure. “It has certainly given us some new puzzles.” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Let’s just hope Mimas doesn’t crash after revolving around Saturn too many times. [NASA via The Register]