Jun 25, 2008
Mal de Mimas
What could blast a
crater 130 kilometers wide without destroying this moon? The
answer might be electricity.
Saturn’s moon, Mimas is another of those “mysterious” objects
that inhabit the solar system. Its appearance reminds one of
the fanciful “death star” from a popular movie several years
ago. The single giant crater that dominates one hemisphere
is unique in that it is one-eighth the diameter of the moon
itself. If a similar-sized crater were formed on Earth it
would cover almost half of the Pacific basin.
previous article about
Tethys, a sister moon to
Mimas, the disproportionately large features – craters,
deep canyons and kilometer-high cliffs – reflect violent
activity that could have destroyed the 1000 kilometer-wide
moon. Why such enormous shocks do not disrupt the material
bodies on which they have been discovered is another mystery
that baffles planetary scientists.
Odysseus Multi-Ring Structure on Tethys is
Herschel crater. Named after Sir William Herschel, who
Mimas in 1789, the hexagonal astroblem is 130 kilometers
wide with a towering central peak. Such craters are
theorized to form when asteroids impact the surface and
explode, blasting the material into space.
standard explanation for why so little debris remains behind
is that the moons, like Mimas, have little gravitational
attraction so the remnants of the explosive events aren’t
retained in the vicinity. It sounds like a reasonable
hypothesis until one examines the craters on large planets
like Earth and Mars. Many hundred-kilometer-wide “impact
Earth also demonstrate little eruptive fallback – their
flat-bottomed floors and steep sidewalls are swept clean,
although glassified breccias are often incorporated into the
rims and walls.
mission specialists the most labyrinthine puzzle of all,
however, is the shape of Herschel crater: it is a hexagon.
How can the detonation of a colliding rock cause a hexagonal
crater? No experiment has been able to demonstrate a
polygonal shape left behind after an explosive event.
Explosions do not aggregate constituent particles into
stable configurations; they induce chaotic behavior that
leaves little in the way of identifiable forms.
to how immense craters with similar morphology can develop
with straight-sided hexagons is found in plasma discharge
experiments. For example, Wal Thornhill explained the
enigmatic hexagonal cloud feature on both Jupiter’s and
Saturn’s north pole by referring to vortex instabilities
seen in the lab during electron beam experiments. See
“2008—Year of the Electric Universe.” He writes, “Given the
almost unlimited scalability of plasma phenomena, it is not
surprising that there are galaxies exhibiting hexagonal
structure within a circular arc (NGC 7421, NGC4676A) and diocotron instabilities in their spiral arms (NGC 3646).
(The arcs are formed electrically not by collision). In
addition there are circular and hexagonal structures within
the spiral arms (the Hodge object in NGC 6946).”
previous Picture of the Day articles, we have attempted
to provide evidence for plasma discharges on planets and
moons. Lightning bolts, diffuse glow-mode clouds of
energetic particles and rotating Birkeland currents are
suggested as causative agents for the bizarre conditions on
celestial bodies, like Mimas. It appears as if Mimas might
have been caught in the grip of a titanic particle beam that
excavated Herschel crater and the other geological features
incised on its face. Due to the plasma instabilities in the
discharge, a hexagon was cut deeply into its crust. When the
electrical energy was withdrawn, Herschel crater remained –
a “fossilized” geometric shape permanently burned in.
By Stephen Smith
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