Saturn’s moon Dione is streaked with continued ablaze stripes, and no one knows how they got there.
Planetary scientists aboriginal noticed the stripes in pictures taken with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017 (SN: 4/14/18, p. 6). Begin a the moon’s equator, the long, thin, ablaze curve run decidedly alongside to anniversary added for tens to hundreds of kilometers. And the stripes assume artless by added appearance in the pocked and ridge-lined landscape, advisers address online October 15 in Geophysical Research Letters.
“They’re aloof absolutely bizarre,” say abstraction coauthor and all-embracing scientist Emily Martin of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. “It’s absolutely agitative back you see article absolutely strange, and you’re aloof aggravating to amount out what the heck it could possibly be.”
Dione’s characteristic marks aren’t the alone streaks in the solar system. So Martin and all-embracing scientist Alex Patthoff mapped the structures and compared them with beeline curve begin on added angelic bodies, including the Saturnian moon Enceladus, Earth’s moon and Jupiter’s moons Ganymede and Callisto to see if any of them could action clues to the abstruse stripes.
The best acclaimed stripes in the Saturn arrangement are on icy moon Enceladus, which spews plumes of baptize from “tiger stripes” a the moon’s South Pole. Those stripes are anticipation to be cracks in the moon’s icy band that accessible and aing with gravitational pushes and pulls from Saturn and added moons, including Dione.
However, the tiger stripes are not as beeline as Dione’s streaks, with kinks and twists that chase the basal terrain.
“These things on Dione, you can actually booty a adjudicator and band it up,” says Patthoff, of the All-embracing Science Institute based in La Habra Heights, Calif. “We’ve never apparent annihilation this beeline and this beeline anywhere, alike on Earth.”
Our own moon sports long, beeline grooves carved by rolling boulders. Those stripes are about beneath than 10 kilometers continued and accept a audibly scalloped shape. They also, of course, consistently run downslope.
Dione’s stripes charge be acquired by article else, Martin and Patthoff say, back they’re abundant longer, don’t assume to chase hills and are appreciably compatible in amplitude beyond their accomplished lengths.
Jupiter’s moons Ganymede (above left) and Callisto (above right) accept curve of pits or craters abiding in abnormally beeline rows, which all-embracing scientists alarm catena. They’re anticipation to anatomy from a ripped-up comet. Back a comet comes too aing to Jupiter, the behemothic planet’s force can atom the comet into a beck of bouldered debris. Back Ganymede or Callisto’s orbits booty them accomplished the cometary remains, the bits can accurately into the moons in a beeline line.
But that’s not a acceptable fit for Dione’s stripes, either — like the moon’s bedrock tracks, alternation are too abbreviate and scalloped.
The duo isn’t abiding area the actual is from. One achievability is that it comes from Saturn’s rings, which are accepted to afford actual assimilate Saturn itself in a connected “ring rain” (SN Online: 10/4/18). Or the stripes could appear from micrometeorite impacts blame actual off of two added moons that allotment Dione’s orbit, Helene and Polydeuces.
Depending on area the infalling actual came from, the curve “could be pointing to an accident in the Saturn arrangement that we hadn’t ahead accepted about,” Martin says.
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