Red Graffiti on Saturn’s Moon Tethys

With all the hubbub about Pluto and extraterrestrial planets, no one seems to be paying attention to the fingerpaint-esque pan-gender celebration of passion apparently limning its way across the surface of one of Saturn’s moons. Known as Tethys, the heavily cratered moon has red graffiti sketches all over it, baffling scientists. The photos of Tethys were snapped up by NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft, a major interplanetary program that arrived in Saturn’s system eleven years ago, in 2004. Cassini will carry on in Saturn’s system until 2017.


These strange scratches discovered on Saturn’s moon Tethys avoided scientists’ first meticulous gazes, when the first images of Tethys became available to NASA experts. Indeed, it wasn’t until they combined images with disparate filters–some green, others clear, a few UV and then also IR spectral filters–that the graffiti-like traces were caught.


The way they did it was by keeping their gazes (i.e. the researchers’) on highlighted anomalies of color webbing out across Tethys’ mad, wrinkly surface. They seemed indubitably the work of a master graffiti artist, “perhaps a Man from Saturn,” one man may have shouted, but then another shook his head in stolid disbelief, because these streaks would not be visible to human eyes; only with filters, may we see the red streaks.


This recent discovery is still a fresh mystery. Scientists and researchers alike have only opined an educated guess that may-haps the red arcs have been caused by ice on Tethys’ surface having been exposed to chemical impurities.

Still sounds like a robot could have graffitied the surface? Another hypothesis held that this could all just be an massive emission of gas coming out of Tethys’ surface.

More than how it got there, the very fact that the mystery formation is blatantly red confuses scientists. Nevertheless, scientists are doubling potential losses, and are already speaking of basing some of their understanding of the moon on this strange find.


But this isn’t the end of the story. Scientists fervently hold that a plenum of studies must follow this irregularity, that clearer pictures must be captured, that no means are to be spared to capture more images of Tethys, that no mental effort be stayed in the pursuit of understanding, when it comes to this Tethys. This is necessary because, to natural scientists, the presence of red lines generally indicates fractures on the moon’s surface, and the latests images inspiring this entire rodeo are not resolved enough to give merit to this usual conclusion.

This is also the first time any such phenomenon has been discovered on Saturn’s moons. There is a similar pattern one can trace resting on the Dione moon, but the other 62 moons have not a single hint of such colorful mosaic patterns.


As was mentioned, Cassini will carry on its mission with Saturn until 2017, until which time it will provide scientists with additional pictures hopefully solving more than creating mysteries becoming endemic of the Saturnian system. When its mission is finished, scientists will guide Cassini in an intentional free-fall into Saturn’s atmosphere, leaving its instruments active and transmitting for as long as possible, until it is eventually quelled by the immense pressure of Saturn’s ancient winds.


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