Text Version
RSS Feeds
Newsletter
Home Forum Photos Features Newsletter Archive Employment
About US Help Site Map
SEARCH   About US FAQ Site Map What's New?
  SERVICES
  -Text Version
  -RSS Feeds
  -Newsletter
  -News Archive
  -Give us feedback
  -Voices of Readers
  -Online community
  -China Biz info
  What's new
NASA finds hydrocarbons on Saturn's moon Hyperion
+ -
07:48, July 05, 2007

 Comment  Tell A Friend
 Print Format  Save Article
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has revealed for the first time surface details of Saturn's moon Hyperion, including cup-like craters filled with hydrocarbons thatmay indicate more widespread presence in our solar system of basicchemicals necessary for life.

Hyperion yielded some of its secrets to the battery of instruments aboard Cassini as the spacecraft flew close by in September 2005. Water and carbon dioxide ices were found, as well as dark material that fits the spectral profile of hydrocarbons.

A paper appearing in the July 5 issue of Nature reports detailsof Hyperion's surface craters and composition observed during thisflyby, including keys to understanding the moon's origin and evolution over 4.5 billion years. This is the first time scientists were able to map the surface material on Hyperion.

"Of special interest is the presence on Hyperion of hydrocarbons -- combinations of carbon and hydrogen atoms that arefound in comets, meteorites, and the dust in our galaxy," said Dale Cruikshank, NASA's planetary scientist, and the paper's lead author.

"These molecules, when embedded in ice and exposed to ultraviolet light, form new molecules of biological significance. This doesn't mean that we have found life, but it is a further indication that the basic chemistry needed for life is widespread in the universe."

Hyperion, Saturn's eighth largest moon, has a chaotic spin and orbits Saturn every 21 days. The July 5 issue of Nature also includes new findings from the imaging team about Hyperion's strange, spongy-looking appearance.

Source: Xinhua



  Your Message:   Most Commented:

|About Peopledaily.com.cn | Advertise on site | Contact us | Site map | Job offer|
Copyright by People's Daily Online, All Rights Reserved

http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90781/6207944.pdf