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Published on October 11th, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie


Rhea: Saturn’s Mysterious Ringed Moon


Saturn’s Moon Rhea

A moon that raises more questions than anything else, Saturn’s moon Rhea is a world that does not give up its mysteries easily. Does it have a rocky core? Does it have a ring system? Is there a liquid ocean underneath its icy crust? The se are all questions that scientists desperately want to answer. 

Core Or No Core?

Saturn’s moon Rhea is a relatively large moon. At 1,500 kilometres (937 miles) in width, the satellite is the ninth largest in the Solar System. 527,000 kilometres (335,000 miles) out from Saturn, it takes Rhea just over four and a half Earth-days to complete an orbit.

It is still unclear as to whether or not Saturn’s moon Rhea has a rocky core. There have been several attempts to verify this but each time the data produced a different result. Like other moons, it is thought that Saturn’s moon Rhea may possess a liquid water ocean. If this is true the heat source is likely to be radioactive decay.

Saturn's moon Rhea, The Moon And Earth

With an average surface temperature of minus 197 degrees Celsius (minus 322 degrees Fahrenheit) Saturn’s Rhea is a cold world.

The moon is heavily pockmarked. Two massive collisions resulted in the formation of impact basins between 400 and 500 kilometres (250 to 310 miles) in width.

The Exosphere

According to Wikipedia, Saturn’s moon Rhea has a partial atmosphere called an exosphere. This atmosphere, which contains oxygen and carbon dioxide, is very different from that of the Earth. On our own planet the exosphere is found at a distance of 600 kilometres above the surface. At this height molecules escape gravity quite easily.

Artist Impression Of Saturn's Moon Rhea's Ring System

Saturn’s Moon Rhea Another Ring System?

One of oddities of Saturn’s moon Rhea is its possible ring system. Although there is yet to be any conclusive proof as to the existence of tenuous rings, in 2008 NASA announced that they believed a ring system existed. This still has to be confirmed.

Someday, hopefully in the not-too-distant-future, we will have answers to the mysterious Rhea. Undoubtedly, there will be more puzzles to solve.

Highly Recommended Reading

Check out Yellow Magpie’s The Planet Saturn: The Ringed Wonder Of The Solar System for more insight into the largest planet in the Solar System.

You may also wish to take a gander at The Solar System And Beyond: A Guide To The Cosmos.

Cosmos is a highly recommended book. It contains large, full-page pictures of the asteroids and writing on the subject by the highly competent author, Giles Sparrow.
For people living in Ireland or the United Kingdom, you can access: Cosmos from here.
For those who live in Canada, you can obtain: Cosmos here.
For Germany: Cosmos.
For France: Cosmos.

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