Recent images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have shown a moonlet in the G ring.
“The discovery of this moonlet, together with other Cassini data,” Hedman said, “should help us make sense of this previously mysterious ring.”
Located in the most outer ring circling Saturn, this still unnamed moonlet is the 61st moon the has been discovered.
E Flux Media reports:
“Before Cassini, the G ring was the only dusty ring that was not clearly associated with a known moon, which made it odd,” said Matthew Hedman, Cassini imaging team associate at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. “The discovery of this moonlet, together with other Cassini data, should help us make sense of this previously mysterious ring.”
The moonlet is fairly small, appearing to be about 0.3 mile in diameter. Scientists believe that the G ring was formed by icy debris that scattered when meteorites crash into the newly found moonlet.
The G ring is only 250 kilometers wide and is believed to contain ice and dust.
National Geographic reports:
“Being one of the bigger objects, the moonlet is likely to be hit more often,” said Matthew Hedman, a member of the Cassini imaging team, based at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. This means the moonlet is probably a significant source of ring material, the scientists say.