City Astronaut



Dr. Porco further believes that Enceladus's orbit could have been much more eccentric in the past. The greater the eccentricity, the greater the tidal squeezing, and the resulting structural variations produce heat. In this case, the heat would have been saved inside the icy moon, melting some of the ice to replenish the liquid water sea. Dr. Porco continued to explain that "(T)he tidal flexing occurring now is not enough to account for all the heat presently coming out of Enceladus. One way out of this dilemma is to assume that some of the heat observed today was generated and stored internally in the past... (N)ow that the orbit's eccentricity has lessened, the heat emanating from the interior is a combination of heat produced today and in the past." Until 2004, no spacecraft had visited Saturn for more than twenty years. Pioneer 11 took the very first close-up images of Saturn when it flew past in 1979. After that flyby, Voyager 1 had its rendezvous about a year later, and in August 1981 Voyager 2 had its brief, but glorious, encounter. Nearly a quarter of a century then passed before new high-resolution images of this beautiful, ringed planet were beamed back to Earth. Earth's Moon is the largest and brightest object suspended in the darkness of the starry night sky. It is both lovely and enchanting, and it has, since ancient times, inspired curiosity and wonder in human beings who gaze up at the mysterious sky after the Sun has set. As such, Earth's Moon has long served as the inspiration for imaginative, wild and marvelous tales--it is the stuff of mythology and folklore. The "Man in the Moon" refers to several fantastic images of a human face that certain traditions see outlined in the gleaming disk of the full Moon. In November 2013, astronomers using data from the lunar-orbiting twins composing NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, announced that they have been acquiring new and fascinating insight into how this bewitching "face," etched on our Moon's disk, received its captivating and enchanting good looks!