Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Pseudoscientist found to be denser than moons
This wonderful image is not new — it was returned from Cassini-Huygens back in 2005 when that brilliant over-achiever of a mission was in orbit around Saturn. It shows the honeycomb-like structure of Hyperion, one of Saturn's 62 moons and Titan's nearest neighbor. Since Bob Zimmerman referenced it in his blog today, I was reminded of the lesson to be learned.
One of the many remarkable facts about Hyperion is its extremely low density—a mere 0.57 gram cm-3 (water has a density of 1, ice is 0.92. Most rock is in the 2.2-2.9 range.) Scientists have interpreted that as meaning that Hyperion's porosity exceeds 40% even assuming it's mostly ice. For comparison, the density of our own Moon is 3.35 gram cm-3.
Now, remember back in April 2010, when Richard Hoagland was dancing from foot to foot yelling that Phobos is an artificial spaceship? The density of Phobos is 1.876 gram cm-3 and porosity about 30%. One of Hoagland's primary arguments was YOU CAN'T MAKE A NATURAL OBJECT THAT'S 30% HOLLOW.
If I was any kind of artist I'd make a little animation of a Hoagland figure doing a Homer Simpson style D'oh!!
 Hyperion's sponge-like appearance (Thomas et al., Nature 2007)