Home Science Space Ridge on Saturn moon Iapetus was hard nut to crack
What is probably most unusual about the moon is its shape. Iapetus is not shaped like most large moons. Instead, it has a unique bulging ridge around its equator that makes it shaped like a walnut, prompting people to nickname it the “Walnut Moon”.

Several theories have been put forth to explain the ridge. Two theories suggest that the ridge was pushed up with internal compressive forces or from a crack in its crust.

Astronomers now theorize that  the ridge formed due to the extremely fast orbital spin (something like five to 17 hours) of the icy moon when it was first forming. Radioactive materials also helped to heat the interior of the body, which cracked and stretched its crust as it spun rapidly around.

The spin produced curvy lines into the body’s surface, which froze permanently in place. The most obvious one is the one located on its equator. Iapetus is now a slower rotating moon, making a complete rotation once every 79.3 earth-days. Astronomers studying Iapetus indicate that such a rapid rotating period early in its life, followed by a slower one today, may help them determine how planets and their moons formed and evolved in the solar system.

Iapetus, Saturn’s third largest moon, was discovered by Italian-French astronomer Giovanni Cassini in 1671. It is composed mostly of ice, with only a small amount of rocky materials. It is heavily cratered. Iapetus is about 1,472 kilometers in diameter.

The NASA Cassini spacecraft discovered the presence of this equatorial ridge in late December–early January of 2004 when it approached within 123,000 kilometers (76,400 miles) of its surface. The ridge was found to be about 20 kilometers (12 miles) wide and around 13 to 20 kilometers (8 to 12 miles) high—making it one of the highest mountains known in the solar system. The mountainous ridge runs about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) on the equator.

Also unusual is the fact that one side of the moon is lighter in color than the other side. Scientists are wondering if this unusual coloring combination is connected to the equatorial ridge. The darker region is called Cassini Regio, which has a slightly reddish-brown look and contains much carbon, while the lighter area is named Roncevaux Terra, which is brightly whitish in appearance.

Cassini is continuing its mission to investigate Saturn and its moons. It is scheduled for a flyby of Iapetus on September 10, 2007, from about 1,100 kilometers (700 miles) away. The new information collected at this time should help scientists better analyze these unusual features of Iapetus.

Information about the NASA Cassini-Huygens mission is located at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/main/

FREE CLOUD BACKUPS MANAGEMENT WEBINAR

Are your technicians spending too much time just managing your clients cloud backups?

Backups are an important part of any IT business but they should not consume more than their fair share of time and money.

Discover how to reduce the amount of time & money spent managing your Cloud Backups during this Free Webinar.

REGISTER FOR FREE WEBINAR!

FREE NETWORKING SERVICES CASE STUDY

As one of the world’s largest social networking services, Facebook handles a lot of user information, and requires input from an astounding range of stakeholders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week — from both inside and outside the business.

Discover how Facebook was helped to connect remote employees, vendors, consultants, and partners to applications and web services quickly and reliably - without risking sensitive data.

GET CASE STUDY!

GET THE IT BUDGET YOU WANT

Explore your Network Treasure Trove to get the IT Budget you want

With Australian businesses projected to spend over $78.7 Billion why does it feel like you can never get the budget you need?.

In most cases your budget will get approved because the proposals are not only technically correct, but also provide good, credible evidence on how the spend aligns with key business objectives.

Did you know that your Network Monitoring tool can help you build a comprehensive business case without an MBA?

HERE ARE 8 TIPS TO GET THE IT BUDGET YOU WANT.

CLICK HERE!

William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University

Connect

 

 

 

 

Join the iTWire Community and be part of the latest news, invites to exclusive events, whitepapers and educational materials and oppertunities.
Why do I want to receive this daily update?
  • The latest features from iTWire
  • Free whitepaper downloads
  • Industry opportunities