Saturn Current Affairs - 2019

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Voyager 2: NASA’s Solar System Explorer reaches interstellar space

NASA’s Voyager 2  has exited heliosphere and has entered interstellar space. It is now at 11 billion miles from the earth. Information from the spacecraft takes 16.5 hours to reach earth at the speed of light. (Light from the sun takes 8 minutes to reach earth)

The spacecraft joined its twin voyager 1 on December 10, 2018. The Voyagers were launched to study the outer solar system up close. Voyager 2 will target Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus.

Evidence

Till November 5, 2019, the space around the spacecraft was surrounded by plasma flowing out from the sun. This outflow is called solar wind and envelopes the planets in the solar system. However, recently, scientists detected no electrical current of plasma to detect density, pressure, temperature. This confirms that the spacecraft has left the heliosphere and entered inter stellar space.

The firsts

  • Voyager 2 is the first spacecraft to study all four planets together. It includes Jupiter, Neptune, Saturn and Uranus
  • It is the first spacecraft that discovered 14th moon of Jupiter.
  • It is the first human-made object to fly by Neptune
  • Voyager 2 also discovered 5 moons of Neptune. It identified a “Great Dark Spot” at Neptune. Also the spacecraft discovered that there are four rings around Neptune.

20 new moons of Saturn discovered

On 8th October 2019, 20 new moons of Saturn were discovered. With this Saturn has a total of 82 moons today. It is the highest of any planet in solar system. Till date Jupiter had the highest number of moons. It has 79 moons.

The moons of Saturn discovered are relatively smaller moons. The discovery was made at the Subaru telescope set up atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano.

Of 82 moons, 17 of them orbit in opposite direction. These moons take more than three years to complete their orbit. The moons were discovered by a team of astronomers led by Sheppard.

The newly discovered moons belong to Norse group. The Saturn’s Norse group of moons are retrograde irregular satellites. There are unique and different from other moons of the solar system. Their inclinations are between 136 degrees and 175 degrees. These moons are clusters formed from different parent body that Saturn captured. This might have happened during the early days of Solar System according to the astronomers who discovered the moons. The other moons belong to Gallic group. They are prograde moons that take less than 2 years to complete their orbit. Also they orbit in the same direction as that of Saturn.