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July 8, 2010

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 2010 14:50:26
From: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory <>
To: "" <>
Subject: Saturn Propellers Reflect Solar System Origins


Jia-Rui C. Cook 818-354-0850
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Joe Mason 720-974-5859
Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

News release:2010-227                                                                  
    July 08, 2010

Saturn Propellers Reflect Solar System Origins

The full version of this story with accompanying images is at:

PASADENA, Calif. - Scientists using NASA's Cassini spacecraft at Saturn have
stalked a new class of moons in the rings of Saturn that create distinctive
propeller-shaped gaps in ring material. It marks the first time scientists
have been able to track the orbits of individual objects in a debris disk.
The research gives scientists an opportunity to time-travel back into the
history of our solar system to reveal clues about disks around other stars
in our universe that are too far away to observe directly.

"Observing the motions of these disk-embedded objects provides a rare
opportunity to gauge how the planets grew from, and interacted with, the
disk of material surrounding the early sun," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini
imaging team lead based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.,
and a co-author on the paper. "It allows us a glimpse into how the solar
system ended up looking the way it does."

The results are published in a new study in the July 8, 2010, issue of the
journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Cassini scientists first discovered double-armed propeller features in 2006
in an area now known as the "propeller belts" in the middle of Saturn's
outermost dense ring, known as the A ring. The spaces were created by a new
class of moonlets - smaller than known moons, but larger than the particles
in the rings - that could clear the space immediately around them. Those
moonlets, which were estimated to number in the millions, were not large
enough to clear out their entire path around Saturn, as do the moons Pan and

The new paper, led by Matthew Tiscareno, a Cassini imaging team associate
based at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., reports on a new cohort of larger
and rarer moons in another part of the A ring farther out from Saturn. With
propellers as much as hundreds of times as large as those previously
described, these new objects have been tracked for as long as four years.

The propeller features are up to several thousand kilometers (miles) long
and several kilometers (miles) wide. The moons embedded in the ring appear
to kick up ring material as high as 0.5 kilometers (1,600 feet) above and
below the ring plane, which is well beyond the typical ring thickness of
about 10 meters (30 feet). Cassini is too far away to see the moons amid the
swirling ring material around them, but scientists estimate that they are
about a kilometer (half a mile) in diameter because of the size of the

Tiscareno and colleagues estimate that there are dozens of these giant
propellers, and 11 of them were imaged multiple times between 2005 to 2009.
One of them, nicknamed Bleriot after the famous aviator Louis Bleriot, has
been a veritable Forrest Gump, showing up in more than 100 separate Cassini
images and one ultraviolet imaging spectrograph observation over this time.

"Scientists have never tracked disk-embedded objects anywhere in the
universe before now," Tiscareno said. "All the moons and planets we knew
about before orbit in empty space. In the propeller belts, we saw a swarm in
one image and then had no idea later on if we were seeing the same
individual objects. With this new discovery, we can now track disk-embedded
moons individually over many years."

Over the four years, the giant propellers have shifted their orbits, but
scientists are not yet sure what is causing the disturbances in their
travels around Saturn. Their path may be upset by bumping into other smaller
ring particles, or responding to their gravity, but the gravitational
attraction of large moons outside the rings may also be a factor. Scientists
will continue monitoring the moons to see if the disk itself is driving the
changes, similar to the interactions that occur in young solar systems. If
it is, Tiscareno said, this would be the first time such a measurement has
been made directly.

"Propellers give us unexpected insight into the larger objects in the
rings," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist based at NASA's Jet
Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Over the next seven years,
Cassini will have the opportunity to watch the evolution of these objects
and to figure out why their orbits are changing."

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European
Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a
division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the
Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in
Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed,
developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at
the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For newly released images and more information about the Cassini-Huygens
mission visit:,

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among multiplicities and collocations, holarchies
in every case, something is given out, something lost from the body
something regained as well (for the body, from the body)

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enumeration of benthic species?
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