NASA has discovered a second “Pac-Man” moon in the Saturn system. The name “Pac-Man” is derived from the unique heat markings left on the surface of the planet that clearly resemble the popular ’80s video game. The readings were found on the Tethys moon and closely resemble the Pac-Man readings previously found on the Mimas moon.
Science Daily reports that NASA has begun to speculate what gives the moon this unique heat reading:
Scientists theorize that the Pac-Man thermal shape on the Saturnian moons occurs because of the way high-energy electrons bombard low latitudes on the side of the moon that faces forward as it orbits around Saturn. The bombardment turns that part of the fluffy surface into hard-packed ice. As a result, the altered surface does not heat as rapidly in the sunshine or cool down as quickly at night as the rest of the surface, similar to how a boardwalk at the beach feels cooler during the day but warmer at night than the nearby sand.
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NASA believes that this unique heat pattern might be a recurring pattern within the Saturn system.
The discovery was made by scientists of the Cassini mission, a group in charge of data received from the Cassini satellite. Cassini was launched in 2004 with the job of exploring the Saturn system.