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Among the ringed gas giant planet Saturn's amazing collection of 62 diverse, bizarre, and beautiful moons and moonlets, sometimes one of them just seems to stand out in the crowd. Such a moon is little Methone. Looking like a shiny white egg in Space, and composed of very lightweight fluffy stuff, Methone is less dense than any other known moon or asteroid in our Solar System. In March 2013, astronomers announced at the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference held in the Woodlands, Texas, that this strange little 5-kilometer-size moon is one of a batch of Space eggs in orbit around Saturn!
We earthlings love to look up at the moon. So much does the moon enamor us; we write movies, songs and poems by the droves that contain the name of the earth's super satellite. A case in point is the fact that one of the biggest selling record albums of all time is Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon."
Full moons on different days. Where you live on earth rarely makes a difference as to whether the moon is full, quarter or new. This is because it takes the moon almost a month to travel around the earth and it only takes a day for the earth to turn around once. So in comparison, the moon sort of sits in the sky and waits for us to see what phase it is in. Still, there are times when the moon will be full on different calendar days in different areas of the earth.
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Dr. Thomas and his team at Cornell University have tried to peer into the mysterious interior of the weird little Space egg that is Methone. They started out with the hypothesis that Saturn's relentless strong gravity pulls the little moon into an elongated shape, just like Earth's own large Moon raises ocean tides on our own planet. Then the team went on to calculate how dense the little moon would have to be for its own gravity to counteract those intense tidal forces and create its strange egg-shape.
"If there are plumes on Europa, as we now strongly suspect, with the Europa Clipper we will be ready for them," commented Dr. Jim Green in the April 13, 2017 NASA Press Release. Dr. Green is Director of Planetary Science at NASA Headquarters.
"The whole process of generating porous space within planetary crusts is critically important in understanding how water gets into the subsurface. On Earth, we believe that life may have evolved somewhat in the subsurface, and this is a primary mechanism to create subsurface pockets and void spaces, and really drives a lot of the rates at which these processes happen. The Moon is a really ideal place to study this," Dr. Soderblom explained in the MIT Press Release.