Scientists who have studied Mimas, one of Saturn’s icy moons, have been perplexed by its mysterious surface temperatures. That’s not all, it’s almost a spitting image of the Death Star from the Star Wars universe, due to “a huge, unmistakable crater called Herschel; the moon is is 246 miles across.” Continue reading for a video, more pictures, and additional information.
Scientists working with the composite infrared spectrometer, which mapped Mimas’ temperatures, expected smoothly varying temperatures peaking in the early afternoon near the equator. Instead, the warmest region was in the morning, along one edge of the moon’s disk, making a sharply defined Pac-Man shape, with temperatures around 92 Kelvin (minus 294 degrees Fahrenheit).
The rest of the moon was much colder, around 77 Kelvin (minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit). A smaller warm spot – the dot in Pac-Man’s mouth — showed up around Herschel, with a temperature around 84 Kelvin (minus 310 degrees Fahrenheit).
‘Even though we can’t explain the observed pattern of surface temperatures on Mimas, the giant Herschel crater is a leading suspect,’ said Dr. Mike Flasar, composite infrared spectrometer principal investigator from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.