There is a strong tradition of “world ages” in Maya literature, but the record has been distorted, leaving several possibilities open to interpretation. According to the Popol Vuh, a compilation of the creation accounts of the Kʼicheʼ Maya of the Colonial-era highlands, we are living in the fourth world. The Popol Vuh describes the gods first creating three failed worlds, followed by a successful fourth world in which humanity was placed. In the Maya Long Count, the previous world ended after 13 bʼakʼtuns, or roughly 5,125 years. [Note a] The Long Count’s “zero date”[Note b][Note c] was set at a point in the past marking the end of the third world and the beginning of the current one, which corresponds to 11 August 3114 BC in the proleptic Gregorian calendar. This means that the fourth world reached the end of its 13th bʼakʼtun, or Maya date 13. 0. 0. 0. 0, on 21 December 2012. In 1957, Mayanist and astronomer Maud Worcester Makemson wrote that “the completion of a Great Period of 13 bʼakʼtuns would have been of the utmost significance to the Maya. ” In 1966, Michael D. Coe wrote in The Maya that “there is a suggestion . . . that Armageddon would overtake the degenerate peoples of the world and all creation on the final day of the 13th [bʼakʼtun]. Thus . . . our present universe [would] be annihilated . . . when the Great Cycle of the Long Count reaches completion. ” [Note e]
However, Dr. Thomas explained to the press in May 2013 that the ring arcs are much more tenuous than the fully formed rings of Saturn. As a matter of fact, the ring arcs are so delicate and thin that it would take about ten billion years for just 1 meter of blowing icy snow to collect within the craters of Methone. Therefore, even though Enceladus is only Saturn's sixth-largest moon, it is amazingly active. Because of the success of the Cassini mission, scientists now know that geysers spew watery jets hundreds of kilometers out into Space, originating from what may well be a vast subsurface sea. These jets, which erupt from fissures in the little moon's icy shell, whisper a siren's song to bewitched astronomers. This is because the jets suggest that the icy moon may harbor a zone where life might have evolved. The jets dramatically spray water ice from numerous fissures near the south pole, that have been playfully termed "tiger stripes." The "tiger stripes" look like giant scratches made by a tiger's raking claws. The GRAIL mission determined the internal structure of the Moon in great detail for nine months during 2012. Armed with this the new information, GRAIL astronomers were able to redefine the sizes of the largest impact basins on the lunar surface.