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Dr. Jason Soderblom said in a September 10, 2015 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Press Release that the evolution of lunar porosity can provide scientists with valuable clues to some of the most ancient life-supporting processes occurring in our Solar System. Dr. Soderblom is a planetary research scientist in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
"This is the closest we've come, so far, to identifying a place with some of the ingredients needed for a habitable environment. These results demonstrate the interconnected nature of NASA's science missions that are getting us closer to answering whether we are indeed alone or not," commented Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen in an April 13, 2017 NASA Press Release. Dr. Zurbuchen is associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at Headquarters in Washington D.C.
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.
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Other than the sun, no other celestial body significantly affects the earth as the moon does. It is well know that the moon affects the rise and fall of the ocean tide. Such is the effect of the gravitational pull between the earth and the moon. Jupiter is easily the largest planet in our solar system. To put its size in context, Jupiter is more than 300 times the mass of Earth. Here is the interesting part; Jupiter has 63 moons that orbit it and yet it is not the planet in the Solar System with the most moons. That honor belongs to the ringed-planet Saturn, which has 66 moons identified so far. Pluto, the farthest flung among the nine planets, has been the subject of heated debate on whether it really qualifies to be considered a planet. Nowadays, it is classified as a dwarf planet. Its orbit around the Sun is somewhat heavily elliptical. In fact, there are instances where Pluto is actually closer to the Sun than Neptune, the planet that precedes it.
"Confirmation that the chemical energy for life exists within the ocean of a small moon of Saturn is an important milestone in our search for habitable worlds beyond Earth," commented Dr. Linda Spilker in the April 13, 2017 NASA Press Release. Dr. Spilker is Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
Dr. Sotin and Dr. Vance are both members of the Icy Worlds team at JPL, which is part of the multi-institutional NASA Astrobiology Institute based at Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.