Friday, November 30, 2012

Pac Man found on two moons of Saturn


What is that saying about space and the universe?  Weirder than we can imagine?

I like Pac-Man.  It's fun to play those retro game packages, you know the ones that include not just games like Pac-Man but Asteroids, Galaga, and Pole Position as well?  I even have a pair of jammies with Pac-Man on them.

Now, Pac-Man has been found on two of Saturn's moons.  Both Thethys and Mimas exhibit odd tendencies in temperature.  When the surfaces of these moons are viewed through thermal imagining, the shape of Pac-Man appears.  The leading explanation for this is that the moons' orbits bring certain areas of their surfaces into the path of streaming, high-energy electrons.  This causes the bombarded surfaces to compact into a hard, icy texture that does not heat or retain heat as rapidly as the other areas.  Thus, you get the Pac-Man shape.

Yet while staring at the thermal images, I grew more intrigued with the moons themselves than even the Pac-Man association.  The moons are the ubiquitous, frozen rocks we've grown accustomed to finding.  As I considered the moons, my thoughts began to drift to Clarke's 2010, thus taking me away from the science of astronomy and into literary speculation.

In 2010, the events precipitated in 2001 were found to be closely tied in with Jupiter's moons of Europa and Io.  The former is covered in ice and the latter is a volcanic spitter of sulfur, so much so that the spaceship Discovery was found covered in a thick layer of sulfur dust as it trundled end over end in a La Grange Point above Io. Anyway, these moons, especially Europa, had more going on with them than our narrow human speculations could have imagined.  What looks frozen and dead may in reality not be so.

The more I examined the photos of Thethys and Mimas, the further I riffed on concepts.  Concepts that I'm certain many others, many more talented others, have entertained before, but I did it anyway.  Why?  Because I like it.  This would-be biblioklept likes to engage the imagination.  But I digress...

Mimas has fair-sized crater in its northern hemisphere.  It rather resembles the sunken-in cannon of the Death Star.  This brought me back to the whole "the Moon is a spacecraft" whacko theory.  What if the "dead rock moons" really aren't dead?  What if they are spacecraft?  What if having that rocky hide makes them perfectly durable for long spaceflights or perhaps even permanent residency in an orbit that is inconspicuously tucked away around one of our system's gas giants?  The bizarre temperature variations discovered might be due to technology within the moon/mothership.  Or maybe its an abandoned mothership, a derelict craft that wandered aimlessly until captured by the immense gravitational pull of Saturn or Jupiter?

I can hear the skeptics scoffing now.  Of course there is no evidence for this.  That's because this is pure conjecture and riffing.
We could stand a bit more of it.


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