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Published on August 23rd, 2011 | by Yellow Magpie


Tethys: Saturn’s Moon Of Mystery


Saturn’s Moon Tethys

Saturn’s moon Tethys is a mid-sized frozen world that is deeply cratered. Yet not much is know about this icy world or how it comes to have such a large amount of water.

At just over 1,000 kilometres (650 miles) across, Saturn’s Tethys is the 16th largest moon in the Solar System. It takes the moon just under two days to make the journey around Saturn at a distance of 294,000 km  (184,000 miles).

Core Or No Core?

The exact composition of Saturn’s moon Tethys remains a mystery although the vast majority of its mass is at least composed of frozen water.

Unlike some of the other moons of Saturn and Jupiter, Tethys is considered an unlikely candidate to have a liquid ocean underneath its crust. If it does have a rocky core, given its known density, it cannot be larger than six per cent of the satellites total mass.

Saturn's Moon Tethys

Saturn’s Moon Tethys A Brightly Cratered World

Apart from the Sun, Saturn’s moon Tethys is one of the brightest objects in the Solar System. Its high albedo is due to the icy crust being continuously sanded by the fine grit of Saturn’s E-Ring.

The moon’s surface is greatly pockmarked by tens of thousands of craters. Many of the craters are quite large, in excess of 40 kilometres (25 miles across).

Most scientists believe that Saturn’s moon Tethys was formed by the coalescence of ice particles orbiting Saturn. However, this has yet to be proved and it is still a mystery why the moon has such large amounts of water.

Saturn’s moon Tethys may not be on NASA’s top five places to visit right now. Nonetheless, if the patterns of history are anything to go by sometimes the most surprising things are found in the unlikeliest of places.

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 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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