picture of the day
transits Saturn’s enigmatic moon Rhea. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space
Oct 28, 2008
Ring Around Rhea
Many of Saturn’s moons exhibit phenomena best associated
with plasma physics. A faint ring of dust and rock has been
found orbiting Rhea confirming the searing effects of electric
Scientists from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California
recently announced the discovery of a “debris ring” surrounding Saturn’s
Rhea. The Cassini space probe, currently orbiting Saturn, discovered the
signals that indicate a potential ringed debris field in 2005 with its
Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument when the anion flux from the giant planet
was seen to abruptly cutout on each side of Rhea’s disk.
Geraint Jones, lead author of a paper that appeared in the March 7, 2008 issue
of the journal Science wrote: "Until now, only planets were known to have
rings, but now Rhea seems to have some family ties to its ringed parent Saturn."
It comes as no surprise to find that
Rhea has joined its sister moons in “flinging” great quantities of material
into space. In a
previous Thunderbolts Picture of the Day article about the “active” moons
Tethys and Dione, features attributed to asteroid impacts were found to be the
points where flowing currents of electricity touched down and wrenched particles
into space. Today there is a less energetic process going on, but matter is
continuing to be attracted along a circuit path to the plasmasphere of Saturn.
Contemporary electrical interactions between celestial bodies are nothing like
what must have taken place in the past. Rhea’s surface is
fractured and carved in ways that point to surges of energy that were great
enough to nearly destroy the moon. There appear to have been explosions big
enough to rock the planetoid, but there are no boulders or blocks of stone that
would be expected as a result of them.
However, If electric arcs decimated the moon in the relatively recent past, the
rock and ice were probably vaporized, torn apart into small pieces and then
ejected into space. The ring of debris surrounding Rhea is most likely a clue to
Electrical theorists argue that Saturn moves within the plasmasphere of the Sun
interacts with the Sun’s electric field. Because planets and moons in the
solar system are charged bodies that are not isolated in “empty” space, it is
only to be expected that they would
transact electrically with their primaries.
The simplest, most straightforward explanation for the ionic plumes emitted by
Tethys and Dione is electric discharge due to their position in Saturn’s
circuit. There is no need to conjure implausible inertial dynamics (“tides” or
“gravitational kneading”) to account for these remarkable events. By that same
token, the possible ring formation around
Rhea is the remains of the pulverized rock and ice that billions of watts of
electricity created when they catastrophically passed through the moon’s
By Stephen Smith
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