Heat maps reveal Pac-Man in the moon


The Cassini spacecraft captured this Pac-Man-shaped heat map of Saturn's moon Mimas during a flyby on Februrary 13. Besides the nostalgia value, the map presents some odd questions. Scientists were expecting gradual heat variations on Mimas—where "hot" means "moderately less ungodly frigid", think -294 compared to -320—but these abrupt cut offs are thoroughly curiosity inducing.

This is, by the way, not the first time Mimas has intersected with Earthling geek culture. Previously, it was best known for sporting a giant, centered crater on one side, earning comparisons to the Death Star. Insert your own "that's no moon" joke here.

Boulder Daily Camera: Pac-Man Shaped Hot Spot Graces Saturn's Moon


  1. Now that is strange.
    To my eyes, apparently the unshocked rocks further from the big crater have differing heat-retention/reflection qualities.

  2. Not the first time, indeed. Lest we forget, Mimas is where we first meet Dave Lister, wearing only a pair of fishing waders, a lady’s crimplene hat, and bearing a passport in the name of “Emily Berkenstein”.

  3. There are some seriously strange and interesting things happening out there around Saturn.

  4. also, astronomers note that Mimas’ path will soon cause it to consume a circular, glowing asteriod, after which Saturn’s other moons will turn blue and begin running away.

    In related news, a gigantic pair of cherries has appeared on the far side of Saturn, no explanation is available.

    1. Farenheit? -320 F is -196 C. Units are definitely needed in the summary, and Farenheit seems very odd applied to objects off Earth.

  5. What’s the likelihood of the camera happening to take that picture at just the right angle for those transitions to happen to make straight lines on the flat image?

    This looks like some kind of instrument failure to me.

    Also, I always assumed somebody who worked on Star Wars was aware of Mimas and designed the Death Star to look like it. Camouflage.

  6. Maybe the hot parts are pointing at a source of heat? Still with the shape I agree with problem software.

  7. If I were to build a computer the size of a moon, and needed the whole thing to sync effectively, I think I would design it to run super cold to turn the components into super conductors.

    That strange distinction between hot and cold areas is likely to just be a result of some heavy floating point maths calculations. When the graphics chips kick back in, the temperatures will even out nicely.

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