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Saturn’s rings coat miniature moons.

The nearest flybys from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft reveal the surfaces of those unusual moons are coated with material from the planet’s rings, also out of freezing particles blasting from Saturn’s bigger moon Enceladus. The work paints a picture of the competing processes shaping these mini moons. The daring, close flybys of those odd little moons let’s peer to how they interact with Saturn rings,” stated Bonnie Buratty from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena, California. Buratti headed a group of 35 co-authors that published their work in the journal Science on March 28.

We are seeing more evidence of how incredibly active and lively the ring and moon system of Saturn is.”. The newest research, from information gathered from six of Cassini’s instruments until his mission ended in 2017, is a clear confirmation that ice and dust from the rings accrete on the moons embedded in and near the rings. Scientists also found the moon surfaces to be extremely porous, further confirming that they had been shaped in multiple phases as a ring material settled onto denser cores that may be remnants of a bigger thing that broke apart. The porosity also can help clarify their contour as opposed to being spherical, they’re blobby and ravioli like, with material adhered around their equators.