back to article Space scope spies soggy, stupendous Saturnian doughnut

The European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory has discovered just where the water in Saturn's upper atmosphere comes from: a giant aqueous doughnut surrounding the planet, formed by H2O hosing from the moon Enceladus. Water jets erupting from Enceladus. Pic: NASA NASA's Cassini spacecraft previously spied the water …

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Coat

Thats no moon...

That is clearly just the death star depositing its human waste. Wouldn't want to fly through that cloud without windscreen wipers!

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Alien

That's no moon!

These look like some sort of RCS, using water as the reaction mass...

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Anonymous Coward

Saturn radii...

How many Brontosauruses is that?

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Saturn radii...

433,886 and a short nose.

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Coat

Title required

Saturnian moon's billion year wet fart leaves damp ring on planet.

If only I could have worked in Uranus somehow.

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Coat

sounds like a buggery job

getting my coat

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Happy

Incontinent moon squirts wetly onto ringed giant

If only that had been 'Incontinent moon squirts wetly onto giant ring', I might have then lost not only my keyboard but my mouse too.

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Boffin

Dumb questions...

ok, it's a Tuesday, and I've still got the IQ level running in safe mode but...

- when will the water run out?

- will it crumple like a soggy balloon when it does?

- won't it drop out of orbit as it gets lighter?

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Boffin

This is a title

Per Wikipedia, Enceladus mass is 1.0*10e20kg, and the main article says it is expelling 250kg of water vapour per second, so assuming a constant rate of loss (which likely isn't correct, but...) it should run out of mass in 4.0*10e17 seconds, which works out to be a bit more than 12.5 billion years if I have done the maths right.

I'll leave the other two questions as an exercise for the class...

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Happy

re bootnote

Good grief! Certainly makes earth-bound photography seem a bit trivial.

Cassini: "OK, everyone line up now. Sun, can you squeeze in just a bit... Saturn if you'll turn your rings just a hair towards me -woah that's it! hold it! *snap* Perfect!"

Certainly makes me realize I've been taking the auto mode on my pentax for granted!

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Silver badge
Boffin

Shifted question

"The European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory has discovered just where the water in Saturn's upper atmosphere comes from"

It's just shifted the question to "where does the water on Enceladus come from" :-)

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Silver badge

Asimov got there first...

... with The Martian Way: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Martian_Way

(Ok, at the time he wrote that, it wasn't known that ring fragments were only a few metres in size instead of a mile or so, but it's not bad for sixty years ago! :-) )

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Pint

isnt there

normally a hosepipe ban around this time of year?

i wonder who pays the water bill.

beer because it's fizzy too.

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Thumb Up

That's no moon, that's....

LOHAN!

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Boffin

Just the spot

for an ablative shield manufacturing depot for high speed

inter-planetary, perhaps even inter-stellar, craft.

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Pint

MMMmmmmh....

Enchilada Doughnuts!

</HomerMoment>

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A smoke ring

or gas torus at any rate, as written about by Larry Niven, a long time after Asimov.

Ansel Adams' comment that much of photography is "knowing where to stand" applies to getting those pictures.

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Bronze badge
Megaphone

pedantic but right

Minuscule. It's not 'mini' + 'scule' but 'minus' + 'cule'. There is also a 'majuscule'. It first referred to modes of writing (small letters and big letters). The origin is the word 'minusculus'.

The error is slowly becoming a 'variant spelling' through sheer ignorance, as is 'free reign' instead of 'free rein'. But they will have to pry my OED from my cold, dead fingers before I yield.

Just doing my bit to add to the fustian usually generated by threads.

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Free reaction mass at Saturn?

No need for the Tsien to land on Europa after all!

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Holmes

Enceladus Aurora?

Looks to me like an Aurora - odd that the jets only concentrated in one place? Maybe Enceladus has a magnetic field like Earth which also interacts with the solar wind and causes an aurora of charged particles at the poles? Maybe ionised water on Enceladus would interact with this electric field and get accelerated off the planet?

Does that mean that any ionised water vapour in clouds at the poles on earth would also be shot into space under the right circumstances? Photos like this seem to show lines of something perpendicular to the ground?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Red_and_green_aurora.jpg

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