Saturn has the geekiest moons ever

Pac Man moonNASA/ JPL

You might have already heard of Mimas, the so-called Death Star moon ("That's no moon...") orbiting Saturn. A couple years ago, researchers spotted the profile of Pac-Man in a thermal image of the moon, but as it turns out, Mimas isn't the only moon of Saturn with a nerdy side.

As part of the Cassini Mission, researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) recently performed a thermal imaging scan of Saturn’s moon Tethys. And just as was the case with Mimas, the resulting imagery showed warmer areas that were shaped exactly like the iconic gaming character.

NASA scientists think that the Pac-Man phenomenon is due to high-energy electrons that impact the moons at "low latitudes on the side of the moon that faces forward as it orbits around Saturn," according to NASA. The impacts cause the ice on the moon's surface to compact and harden, which causes those areas of Tethys to take longer to heat up and cool down than the rest of the moon's surface. Due to the reoccurrence of the pattern, scientists believe that Pac-Man moons are much more common in the wider solar system that they first thought.

If you ever needed to pick out a new planet to live on within our solar system (obvious habitability issues aside), it looks like Saturn just gave you two great reasons to move there. What kind of geek would want to gaze at a Death Star that houses Pac-Man? Now, if only we could find Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde…

[JPL via SlashGear]

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This story, "Saturn has the geekiest moons ever" was originally published by TechHive.

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