Astronomy Picture of the Day



4,000 Kilometers Above Saturn's Iapetus

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#103371 by @ 20.09.2007 00:00 - nach oben -
4,000 Kilometers Above Saturn's Iapetus


Explanation:
What does the surface of Saturn's mysterious moon Iapetus look like?

To help find out, the robotic
Cassini spacecraft
now orbiting
Saturn was sent soaring last week just 2,000 kilometers from the unique equatorial ridge of the unusual
walnut-shaped
two-toned moon.

The
above image
from Cassini is from about 4,000 kilometers out and
allows objects under 100-meters across to be resolved.

Cassini found an
ancient and battered landscape of craters,
sloping hills, and mountains as high as 10 kilometers and so
rival the 8.8-kilometer height of
Mt. Everest on Earth.

Just above the center of
this image is a small bright patch where an impacting rock might have uncovered deep clean water ice.

Space scientists will be studying
flyby images like this for clues to the origin of
Iapetus' unusual shape and
coloring with particular emphasis because
no more close flybys
of the enigmatic world are planned.



APOD editor to review best space pictures in Philadelphia next Wednesday


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