Wednesday, 31 March 2010

That's No Space Station, It's a Moon!

As the Millennium Falcon flies towards Alderaan to deliver the stolen plans to Princess Leia's father, Han Solo and crew hit an asteroid field where the planet used to be. After a bit of turbulence and finding a stray TIE fighter, they watch as the small imperial ship floats towards what Luke refers to as "a small moon." Obi-Wan perks up and says, "That's no moon." While Kenobi was able to correctly identify the Death Star when he first saw it, pictures of the Saturn moon Mimas would confuse the hell out of him.

NASA has revealed new photos of the moon, and there is no doubt: it looks identical to the Death Star. Without thinking about it, the small celestial body looks the same as any other - gray with craters - but it is the huge crater with what appears to be a peak in the middle that makes us reminisce about one of the greatest sci-fi epics of all time and pray that a green beam doesn't shoot out and destroy Earth. Upping the geek factor, when a thermal scan of the moon was taken, hot spots were discovered that made the moon look like a giant game of Pac Man, the superlaser focus lens suddenly becoming a dot on which the yellow creature can nosh.

These pictures were released by NASA yesterday taken by the Cassini spacecraft which is a joint international venture and is in orbit around Saturn. So what does this tell us? Two things, really. The first is that surface texture variation may be responsible for the different temperature zones, though the pattern is inexplicable. The second is that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is full of nerds B )

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