The Cassini probe recently discovered a thin atmosphere surrounding Rhea, one of more than 60 moons orbiting Saturn. The probe discovered that Rhea’s atmosphere contains 50 billion oxygen molecules and 20 million carbon dioxide molecules per cubic meter. Scientists speculate the atmosphere was created by the collision of high energy particles with the ice that accounts for most of the moon’s mass.
While we’re not ready to pack up and move to Rhea and rename it Hoth just yet, this is exciting news. While we’ve been able to identify several space bodies with an atmosphere, this is the first time a probe has been able to examine and analyze an oxygen containing atmosphere this closely. The findings will certainly influence future unmanned space missions as we continue to be surprised and amazed by the wonders of our universe.