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Friday, September 14

Iapetus flyby pictures

There are quite a few images from the recent Iapetus flyby available now, and they are stunning. Emily Lakdawala has a great collection at the Planetary Society weblog including this mosaic of the satellite as Cassini moved away from it.

The bright areas are thought to be ice common in the Saturnian system moons, like Enceladus for example. The dark areas are ice covered with some dark deposits. More detailed images show the dark material lying in craters and channels etc on the surface.

Monday, September 10

Close Encounter

As I write this Cassini is conducting it's closest flyby yet of Saturn's mysterious moon Iapetus.

Iapetus is a mystery for two reasons; firstly it has one dark hemisphere and one light hemisphere (visible at the top is this photo) giving it the nickname of the Ying-Yang moon, secondly it has a massive mountain range around it's equator. This mountain range makes it look as if the moon is constructed from two hemispheres joined together (a bit like an easter egg). This of course is highly unlikely to be the real reason, but that's one of the things this current encounter should help to solve.

During this encounter Cassini will fly within 1,000 miles of the surface of the moon, much closer than the previous closest approach of 80,000 miles in 2004. Emily Lakadawala has posted an article with all the details on the Planetary Society website and will be giving regular updates on her blog.

Friday, September 7

Carnival of Space

Check out this week's Carnival of Space, the weekly round up of the best of astronomy and space blogs, over at Universe Today.

Lots of good articles there, and you may find a new blog or two that you've not seen before.