On the trailing hemisphere there is a network of bright streaks on a dark background and few visible craters (above). The streaks overlay the craters, indicating that they are newer.
The leading hemisphere is heavily cratered and uniformly bright (above). Like Callisto, the craters lack the high relief features seen on the Moon and Mercury.
This was interpreted as follows: shortly after its formation Dione was active. Some processes (ice volcanism?) resurfaced much of Dione leaving the pattern of streaks, probably on the whole surface. Later, after the internal activity and resurfacing ceased, a much less intense series of impacts (which left craters too small to be seen in Voyager’s images) occurred. This was concentrated on the leading hemisphere and wiped out the streak patterns but left them intact on the trailing hemisphere.
And as is often the case in science and to the delight of all involved, newer data shows that the previous hypothesis was wrong. Higher resolution images from Cassini clearly show that the streaks are not ice flows but rather a complex network tectonic fractures that are younger than most of the craters (click the image to the left).
Helene orbits in Dione’s leading Lagrange point. The tiny moon Polydeuces (S/2004 S5), discovered by Cassini in 2004, occupies the trailing Lagrange point.
15 Aug, 2013
by cnkguy with no comments yet.