Mysterious stripes have been found on Dione, Saturn’s moon. Straight and bright, these linear virgae on Dione are similar to the images of Rhea, another of Saturn’s moon, scientists say.
These stripes on Dione may have been caused by surface materials around Saturn’s rings, passing comets or co-orbital moons Helene and Polydeuces, according to the scientists in the US.
“The evidence preserved in the linear virgae has implications for the orbital evolution and impact processes within the Saturnian system,” said Alex Patthoff from the Planetary Science Institute in the US, in the study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Patthoff and Emily S Martin from the National Air and Space Museum, studied the images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The images captured by Cassini also revealed similar features on Rhea, Saturn’s moon.
“The interaction of Dione’s surface and exogenic material has implications for its habitability and provides evidence for the delivery of ingredients that may contribute the habitably of ocean worlds in general,” Patthoff said.
Know all about Dione’s mysterious linear virgae
The stripes are brighter than the surrounding terrains, long (10 to 100s of kilometers) and narrow (less than 5 kilometers)
The stripes are parallel, appear to overlie other features and are unaffected by topography, suggesting they are among the youngest surfaces on Dione.
“Their orientation, parallel to the equator, and linearity are unlike anything else we have seen in the solar system...If they are caused by an exogenic source, that could be another means to bring new material to Dione. That material could have implications for the biological potential of Dione’s subsurface ocean,” Patthoff said.