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Giant Ice Avalanches On Iapetus Provide Clue To Extreme Slippage Elsewhere In The Solar System


“We see landslides everywhere in the solar system,” says Kelsi Singer, graduate student in earth and planetary sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, “but Saturn’s icy moon Iapetus has more giant landslides than any body other than Mars.”

The reason, says William McKinnon, PhD, professor of earth and planetary sciences, is Iapetus’ spectacular topography. “Not only is the moon out-of-round, but the giant impact basins are very deep, and there’s this great mountain ridge that’s 20 kilometers (12 miles) high, far higher than Mount Everest.

Full Story: https://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/24035.aspx

How the Equatorial Ridge on Saturn’s Moon Iapetus Formed

March 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Saturn’s moon Iapetus is one of the most unusual moons in our solar system. Perhaps the most bizarre feature of Iapetus is its equatorial ridge, a 20-km (12.4-mi) high, 200-km (124-mi) wide mountain range that runs exactly along the equator, circling more than 75 percent of the moon. No other body in the solar system exhibits such a feature, and as Dombard et al. show, previous models have been unable to adequately explain how the ridge formed.

The authors now propose that the ridge formed from an ancient giant impact that produced a subsatellite around Iapetus. Tidal interactions with Iapetus ultimately led to orbital decay, eventually bringing the subsatellite close enough that the same forces tore it apart, forming a debris ring around Iapetus. Material from this debris ring then rained down on Iapetus, creating the mountain ring along the equator.

Full Story: http://www.agu.org/news/press/jhighlight_archives/2012/2012-03-29.shtml#four