Clipped From Mexico Ledger

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 - Planet Uranus Has Rings Like Saturn: Scientists...
Planet Uranus Has Rings Like Saturn: Scientists MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — Scientists say they have made the first major structural discovery in the solar system in nearly 50 years — the cold, mysterious planet of Uranus has rings like Saturn. Until now, Saturn was the only one of the nine known planets encircled by rings of space particles. "The possibility of the rings had been vaguely speculated before, but the discovery caught everyone by surprise," Dr. James Elliott, a space researcher at Cornell University, said of the discovery, details of which were announced today at a news conference. • Elliott and his co-workers were studying the . stars around Uranus, seventh planet from the sun, when they spotted the five thin rings. The team was working in an airborne laboratory 41,000 feet aloft. The aircraft, operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Ames Research Center here, was flying over the southern Indian Ocean when the sighting was made on March 10. The rings weren't seen earlier, Elliott explained in an interview, because light reflected from the planet is usually so bright it obscures the ring's lesser reflections. He said the plane's altitude and position on the nightside of the Earth provided just the right combination of light conditions for observing the heretofore unseen rings. After the first reports of their discovery, observatories around the world were told the conditions under which the rings could be spotted and were asked to confirm the 'finding. Last week, the Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory at Cambridge, Mass., said an Indian astronomer saw the rings from an observatory near New Delhi. And an astronomer ., from the University of Arizona also sighted the rings from an observatory near Perth, Australia. Elliott said the rings are similar to the famed colored rings around Saturn, but are much thinner. He named them after the first five letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha, beta, gamma, delta and epsilon. "We don't know why they are so thin," he said. "They are only a few miles thin, and the thickest one is 30 to 60 miles. Saturn's rings are thousands of miles thick. "We can't really tell what the rings are made of," he said. "One good guess would be some type of ice. One theory about Saturn's rings is that they are made out of snowballs. "We still have a lot of data analysis to do. We want to figure out what they are made of and work with other astronomers." One possibility, he said, is that the rings are composed of material present during the formation of the solar system that never coalesced into moons or are remnants of a broken-up moon. The last major scientific discovery in the solar system was the planet Pluto, most distant planet in the solar system, in 1930. Uranus was discovered in 1781. Ex-Clay Aide From Prison Released WASHINGTON (AP) - Michael C. McPherson, once the top aide to Rep. William L. Clay of Missouri, has been re| leased from federal prison because he needs medical care not available in prison. McPherson was sentenced Nov. 24 to six months for defrauding the government of more than $32,000 in a congressional payroll scheme. He suffers from Paget's

Clipped from
  1. Mexico Ledger,
  2. 30 Mar 1977, Wed,
  3. Page 5

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