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Science File | IN BRIEF

Saturn Photos Suggest Another Moon or Two

September 11, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Closer analysis of pictures taken during the Cassini spacecraft's entrance into Saturn's orbit in June has revealed another small moon -- Saturn's 34th -- and a tiny ringlet in the same orbit as the moon Atlas. The new ringlet is about 190 miles wide, but astronomers do not know if it goes all the way around Saturn.

The potential new moon, about 2 to 3 miles in diameter, may be either a solid rock or an agglomeration of loosely compacted material. Either its orbit crosses the F ring or astronomers have actually found two moons, one on each side of the ring.

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