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Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory may get some clues to a mystery Friday when NASA's Cassini space probe comes within 1,250 miles of Phoebe, one of Saturn's most mysterious moons.
Phoebe has boggled astronomers for over 100 years because of its dark surface and retrograde orbit, which sends it spinning around Saturn in the opposite direction from the planet's 30 other known moons. Many scientists now believe the 137-mile-wide moon may be a captured asteroid that has remained unchanged since it was first formed in the outer solar system. If Friday's flyby proves that theory to be true, data gathered from Cassini's instruments could shed new light on how planets are formed.