Skip to comments.Saturn's Moon Iapetus Is the Yin-and-Yang of the Solar System
Posted on 09/17/2007 10:10:17 AM PDT by LRS
PASADENA, Calif. Scientists on the Cassini mission to Saturn are poring through hundreds of images returned from the Sept. 10 flyby of Saturn's two-toned moon Iapetus. Pictures returned late Tuesday and early Wednesday show the moon's yin and yang--a white hemisphere resembling snow, and the other as black as tar.
Images show a surface that is heavily cratered, along with the mountain ridge that runs along the moon's equator. Many of the close-up observations focused on studying the strange 20-kilometer high (12 mile) mountain ridge that gives the moon a walnut-shaped appearance.
"The images are really stunning," said Tilmann Denk, Cassini imaging scientist at the Free University in Berlin, Germany, who was responsible for the imaging observation planning. "Every new picture contained its own charm. I was most pleased about the images showing huge mountains rising over the horizon. I knew about this scenic viewing opportunity for more than seven years, and now the real images suddenly materialized."
This flyby was nearly 100 times closer to Iapetus than Cassini's 2004 flyby, bringing the spacecraft to about 1,640 kilometers (1,000 miles) from the surface. The moon's irregular walnut shape, the mountain ridge that lies almost directly on the equator and Iapetus' brightness contrast are among the key mysteries scientists are trying to solve.
"There's never a dull moment on this mission," said Bob Mitchell, Cassini program manager, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "We are very excited about the stunning images being returned. There's plenty here to keep many scientists busy for many years."
"Our flight over the surface of Iapetus was like a non-stop free fall, down the rabbit hole, directly into Wonderland! Very few places in our solar system are more bizarre than the patchwork of pitch dark and snowy bright we've seen on this moon," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
The return of images and other data was delayed early Tuesday due to a galactic cosmic ray hit which put the spacecraft into a precautionary state called safe mode. This occurred after the spacecraft had placed all of the flyby data on its data recorders and during the first few minutes after it began sending the data home. The data flow resumed later that day and concluded on Wednesday. The spacecraft is operating normally and its instruments are expected to return to normal operations in a few days.
"Iapetus provides us a window back in time, to the formation of the planets over four billion years ago. Since then its icy crust has been cold and stiff, preserving this ancient surface for our study," said Torrence Johnson, Cassini imaging team member at JPL.
Cassini's multiple observations of Iapetus will help to characterize the chemical composition of the surface; look for evidence of a faint atmosphere or erupting gas plumes; and map the nighttime temperature of the surface. These and other results will be analyzed in the weeks to come.
Iapetus flyby images are available at: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://ciclops.org.
"You got chocolate on my peanutbutter!"
"You got peanutbutter on my chocolate!"
Galactic cosmic ray?...................
They ain't foolin' me any! That a close up of an Oreo Ice Cream!................
That is one strange place!
Does anybody else see an eagle in one of the pix?
Arthur Clarke’s Video Greeting for Cassini’s Iapetus Flyby
Cassini-Huygens Home Page | September 10, 2007 | Arthur C. Clarke (NASA)
Posted on 09/17/2007 12:37:15 PM EDT by cogitator
Looks like they got pictures out the yin-yang LOL.
Legless, armless man, after the steamroller got him.
Thanks! I hadn’t seen that. Clarke’s comments were interesting. The Saturian system has proven far more fascinating than anyone imagined, and he has quite an imagination...
That’s either The Predator or a Viking Kitty....;o]
Obviously 2 Ubangees of the Shrillery variety kissing just before . . .
oooo. Good one.
An fighter airplane with pincers, and a chanting guy with arms outstretched and a doubled-ended Egyptian crownish thingy on the guy’s head. Fat, fire-breathing babies in the upper corners? Young children with downward arm on either side in the middle. Upside down chimera with a smoker’s head and some paddle-tailed animal’s body (such as a platypus).
And the guy's in a sort of lotus position or 'Indian style.'
That's what I see.
Quit posting dirty pictures.
Hyperion is an irregularly shaped moon and like most of these was thought to be a “captured” moon of Saturn, which is an object that strays too close to a larger body and is pulled into its orbit. Soon other theories suggested that perhaps it was a single fragment of some larger body which was largely destroyed and perhaps is what littered Iapetus with its darker material. Now, closer observations show us that much of Hyperion’s interior is hollow space... or nothing... which could mean that Hyperion is actually a collection of smaller fragments of ice and some rock which over time pulled itself together to form Hyperion. In other words an orbiting pile of rubble.
The ridge at Iapetus’s equator from only 3,148 km. The black and white nature of Iapetus is only one of its [bizarre] traits, the other is the huge mountain range that runs almost completely around its equator. This the feature that often causes the mainstream media to compare the moon to a walnut.
I think it's cracked!
A big crater on the rim of an older, much bigger crater. :’)
Arthur C. Clarke Stands By His Belief in Life on MarsClarke spoke last night, June 6, via phone from his home in Sri Lanka as key speaker in the Wernher von Braun Memorial Lecture series held here at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Pouring over images on his home computer taken by the now-orbiting Mars Global Surveyor (MGS), Clarke said that there are signs of vegetation evident in the photos. Clarke repeated several times that he was serious about his observations, pointing out that he sees something akin to Banyan trees in some MGS photos.
by Leonard David
Yep. You’re right...
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