Highlights from the 43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, The Woodlands, Texas, March 19-23 | Science News

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Highlights from the 43rd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, The Woodlands, Texas, March 19-23

Geologic activity and weather on Saturnian moons, and studies in Greenland to learn about Mars

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2:45pm, March 23, 2012

Saturn moon shows some action
Dione, a lesser-known Saturnian moon, has been — and might still be — geologically active. Several lines of evidence from the Cassini spacecraft suggest that the small, frozen moon isn’t just a staid icy rock, said Bonnie Buratti of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on March 19. For one thing, charged particles emanate from the moon’s surface. Other areas are riven with what Buratti calls “paleo-tiger stripes” — features reminiscent of the steamy fractures on another moon of Saturn, Enceladus, that blast water into space. There’s a feature that looks suspiciously like a cryovolcano, or something that spews ice and other cold materials instead of erupting lava; areas nearby are smooth and relatively crater-free, suggesting that they might have been covered by a frigid eruption. And there’s evidence for a tenuous oxygen atmosphere. Such observations suggest “recent and/or ongo

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