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Young Astronaut Program sts 1 training astronaut john young john young space Young Program Astronaut

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Curious facts about cosmic life and their inhabitants.

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."



and here is another

There are over 100 moons dancing around the eight major planets of our Sun's family. Most of them are small, frozen, icy objects, harboring only a relatively scanty amount of rocky material, that circle around the quartet of giant gaseous planets that dwell in the outer, frigid realm of our Solar System--far from the comforting warmth and brilliance of our Star. The quartet of majestic, giant denizens of our outer Solar System--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--are enveloped with gaseous atmospheres, and orbited by a multitude of dancing, sparkling moons and moonlets. In marked contrast, the inner region of our Solar System--where our Earth dwells--is almost bereft of moons. Of the quartet of relatively petite, rocky "terrestrial" planets--Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars--only Earth is circled by a large Moon. Mercury and Venus are moonless, and Mars is orbited by a duo of tiny, lumpy, potato-shaped moons, Phobos and Deimos. Phobos and Deimos are probably escaped asteroids, born in the Main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, that were captured by the gravitational embrace of the Red Planet long ago.



and finally

Using computer models, the team of scientists came up with a complex interior structure for Ganymede, composed of an ocean sandwiched between up to three layers of ice--in addition to the very important rocky seafloor. The lightest ice, of course, would be on top, and the saltiest liquid would be heavy enough to sink to the bottom. Furthermore, the results suggest the existence of a truly weird phenomenon that would cause the oceans to "snow" upwards! This bizarre "snow" might develop because, as the oceans swirl and churn, and frigid plumes wind and whirl around, ice in the uppermost ocean layer, called Ice III, may form in the seawater. When ice forms, salts precipitate out. The heavier salts would then tumble down, and the lighter ice, or "snow," would flutter upward. The "snow" would them melt again before reaching the top of the ocean--and this would possibly leave slush lurking in the middle of the moon's odd sandwich!

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Additional modeling showed that the strange features must be atmospheric--but nevertheless close to Titan's surface--probably creating a very thin layer of tiny solid organic particles. Because they are located directly above the dune fields surrounding Titan's equator, the only possible explanation left is that these mysterious spots are really clouds of dust churned up from the dunes.



Coastal angers for centuries have looked to the tides for knowing when fishing will be at its best, yet many have not tied this into the moon itself. Although any one who has fished along the coast knows that the tides indeed determine when fishing will be good and when it is going to be slow to nearly impossible to catch a fish.



Ganymede is the largest moon in our Solar System. Indeed, its impressive diameter of nearly 3,280 miles makes it almost as big as Mars! Astronomers have known since the 1990s that this frigidly cold moon, that circles around the gas-giant planet Jupiter, contains a hidden salty subsurface ocean of liquid water, sloshing around deep beneath its secretive shell of ice. However, in May 2014, planetary scientists announced that the situation may be somewhat more complicated--Ganymede's ocean might be organized like a multi-tiered sandwich, with ice and oceans stacked up in several layers, according to new NASA-funded research that models this enormous moon's composition.