Mysterious Japet

Mysterious Japet

1Since the discovery of the satellite, Iapet, the third largest of all Saturnian satellites, has puzzled astronomers with its riddles. Not only was his coloring very strange - diametrically opposite colors — half black, second half white; so also a strange ridge, encircling Yapet at the equator, of unclear origin. And recently, to all the surprising facts, the hypothesis of American astrophysicists was added that he may have his own satellite.

Let's take a look at this cosmic body in more detail ...2

 

Japet is one of the four satellites discovered in 1672 by Giovanni Cassini. But the icy satellite hid for a long time from the Italian astronomer. He was the first to see his west side, but when he tried to observe his east side after 39 days, he found no trace of the satellite. The situation was repeated during the 79-day orbit of the satellite, Cassini suggested that the satellite was turned to the planet all the time on one side and one side darker than the other.

Cassini named four satellites that he discovered (Iapetus, Rhea, Dion and Tethys) the stars of Louis, in honor of King Louis XIV.For many years, the satellites had a numerical name, depending on their location before Saturn. At first, Yapet was called Saturn V, but after the discovery of Mimas, Enceladus, and Hyperion, it became known as Saturn VIII. Almost 200 years later, John Herschel suggested that the moons around Saturn should be named after the titans - brothers and sisters of the Greek god Kronos, who was known by the Romans as Saturn.

In Greek mythology, Japet is the son of Uranus and Gaia and the father of Atlas and Prometheus. Prometheus - Titan, who gave fire to people and allowed the ancient Greeks to consider Yapet, as the father of the human race.

The main attractions on Yapet have names from the French epic poem "The Song of Roland".3

 

The contrasting sides of the satellite are separated by a fairly clear boundary, only in one place it acquires slightly blurred outlines, approaching the white part of Yapet. The main color of Iapet can still be considered white, since the satellite is most likely nothing more than a super-giant cosmic block of water ice. In any case, its density is determined the same as that of ice. As for the black substance, it seems that the surface is just covered with it ..

The rotation style of the satellite Iapet around Saturn is the same as that of the Moon - they are both turned to their planets with only one side. In addition, moving in its orbit, Japet flies the dark side forward, as if something was pouring into his face.

It is possible that the mystery of the dark color has already been unraveled. Scientists at Cornell University expressed the opinion that the surface of Iapetus is dusting another Saturnian satellite, Phoebe. He constantly collides with other space bodies and drags a black dust tail. Phoebe flies toward the satellite of Japet and therefore he collects all the dust that Phoebe leaves in space.

Cassini thermal observations provided a better understanding of the unique process. Slowly rotating the satellite means that a dark surface that absorbs more heat than its icy part has more time to heat up. Any icy material, mixing with a dark surface, turns into a gaseous form, returning to the cooler regions of the satellite. Thus, the dark side continues to become darker, while the light becomes brighter.The temperature on the warm dark side reaches minus 143 degrees Celsius (minus 226 F). The bright side, which absorbs less heat, is cooler, with temperatures averaging minus 173 C (minus 280 F).

Just like all celestial bodies, almost or completely devoid of the atmosphere, Iapet suffered greatly from the meteoric space attacks. There are a lot of craters on its surface, some of them are very wide, others, on the contrary, go to an incomprehensible depth. One of them has steep walls fifteen kilometers high.4

 

After the Cassini space probe began to transmit information, another mysterious relief detail of the satellite Iapet was discovered. Straight along the equator, encircling it, there is a mountain range with a height of at least thirteen kilometers and a width of about twenty. It is not clear where he came from, but perhaps this mountain range was formed due to tectonic shifts even during the formation of Yapet. There is another version, according to which the blame for all too fast rotation and, as a result, a strong warming up of the satellite.

However, today there is another version. Using a 3D map consisting of Cassini data, the researchers believe that they have the most likely hypothesis of its occurrence.

As a rule, mountains on Earth are formed as a result of side effects of tectonic plate movement and volcanic activity. Alas, nothing like this happens on Japan. In addition, mountains that are 6 miles high are too steep for their origin to be explained by ordinary orogenic mechanisms. So how did this ridge form?

Researchers believe that the material of which the mountains are composed has an “exogenous” origin. In other words, he came from space. In a document submitted to arXive, the researchers point to a possible collision between Yapet and another planetary body that created a huge amount of garbage. This debris flew into orbit around the equator of Yapet and, eventually, in the form of rain fell on its surface and formed the equatorial mountains.

Another theory suggests that Japet may have had his own moon, which disintegrated under the influence of gravity, creating a ring system, and collapsed on the surface of Iapetus.

But whatever the theory, all scientists agree that Yapet could not create a mountain range without help from outside.5

 

Compared with other "vassals" of Saturn, Iapet's satellite has a fairly fast rotation, but it was frozen for a very long time.There are not so many objects in the solar system that could demonstrate their early history with complete certainty. Japet today is something like a “cryo-camera,” in which all information about the early period of its existence remains intact.

Relict deposits are very well seen under the ice crust. They maintain complete immobility for at least several hundred million years. But the main part of the satellite Iapet was formed at a time when only the beginnings of the atmosphere were on Earth, Mars could boast of having water, and all the other planets of the Solar System were just beginning their development.

According to Dennis Metson, an astronomer from NASA, Iapet today is much slower doing a full turn around Saturn - it takes him almost eighty days. Three billion years from today into the depths of ancient times, the satellite was enough for this for only five hours.

The mysterious and strange Iapet attracts the attention of many scientists, and until its riddles are solved, the interest in Iapet’s satellite is unlikely to diminish.

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  • Mysterious Japet

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