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"Makemake is in the class of rare Pluto-like objects, so finding a companion is important. The discovery of the moon has given us an opportunity to study Makemake in far greater detail than we ever would have been able to without the companion," Dr. Parker continued to explain.

Titan's atmosphere is approximately 95% nitrogen. However, in a way that dramatically differs from Earth's own mostly-nitrogen atmosphere, Titan's atmosphere has very little oxygen. Indeed, the remainder of Titan's atmosphere is almost entirely composed of methane--along with small qunatities of other gases, such as ethane. At the extremely cold temperatures that are found at Saturn's great distance from the heat of our Star, Titan's methane and ethane can accumulate on its icy surface to form pools of liquid.

Furthermore, the icy stuff that collected on Methone's surface could even be more lightweight than that which lies beneath. It is possible that such fluffy, snowy, stuff can actually flow--at least over long periods of thousands to millions of years--thus filling in the tell-tale scars of impact craters.

Since its discovery centuries ago, Ganymede has been the target of a great deal of well-deserved attention from the planetary science community. Earth-bound telescopes have gazed at Ganymede's puzzling, icy surface and, in later decades, flyby space missions and spacecraft, circling around Jupiter, have scrutinized Ganymede--trying to solve its numerous mysteries. These observations ultimately unveiled a complicated, icy moon-world, whose bizarre surface showed a strange and puzzling contrast between its two main types of terrain: the dark, extremely ancient and heavily cratered surface terrain, and the much younger--but still ancient--lighter terrain showing a vast array of mysterious grooves and ridges.

Dr. Rodriguez and his colleagues also spotted a trio of odd equatorial brightenings in infrared images obtained by Cassini during Titan's 2009 northern equinox. At the time, the scientists speculated that the brightenings might also be the same kind of methane clouds observed in tropical areas. However, this proved not to be the case. A later investigation conducted by the astronomers revealed that these brightenings were caused by something entirely different.

Most of the Big Whack theory was suggested in 1975 by Dr. William K. Hartmann and Dr. Donald R. Davis of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. Their theory was derived from geological evidence that had been collected by the Apollo astronauts when they made their historic trip to the Moon in 1969. Oxygen isotopes within the lunar rocks were found to be almost identical to those on Earth. Furthermore, other pieces of evidence revealed that the Moon is partly composed of the same material as Earth's mantle.

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