4. Hyperion – The Irregular Moon
Hyperion has an oddly mismatched shape that is far from being a sphere, and scientists believe that this low-density moon that orbits Saturn is actually a much smaller fragment of a massive-sized moon that was blown up due to an ancient collision that happen in the earliest solar system.
It features a low-density surface and almost half of it comprises of water. The surface is densely cratered, which makes it appear like a thick sponge. Since it is positioned as one of the outermost moons orbiting Saturn, its craters remain intact as they are not subjected to any kind of tidal forces that could have gradually filled up these collision-resulted craters.
5. Mimas – Hardly a Moon…
Mimas appears to be shaped like a moon-shaped saucer or even a comical space station, which is mostly because of the massive collision crater that sprawls over one-third of its entire diameter. It features a giant crater that covers an expanse of 130 km, surrounded by 5 km walls that have been termed as the Herschel Crater. These walls are named after William Herschel, the man who identified Mimas back in 1789.
The object that had collided into Mimas nearly destroyed this moon, and it stills bears marks and fractures on its surface after all these years. It is filled with deep and dense craters, which reveal a surface that is devoid of replenishing and rebuilding, even though it makes an elliptical orbit and is positioned close to Saturn, putting it in the way of sufficient gravitational attractions and tidal activities to generate heat and surface replenishing.
It carves out an orbit spanning over 22.5 hours, and while it keeps the same face towards Saturn throughout its orbit, it remains tidally locked. It also causes disruptions in the orbits of certain smaller moons and when it passes through the larger moons, Dione and Enceladus, it increases its speed dramatically.
6. Enceladus – The Brightest of them All
Enceladus happens to the most vibrant and brightest of all celestial beings within the solar system, and it orbits Saturn. It has a water ice surface which is capable of reflecting nearly 100% of the entire light blazed by the son, however, this is just one of the many aspects that make it an incredibly fascinating object within the Solar system.
The ice water moon is largely considered as the most compelling scientific discovery within the solar system, and many researchers believe that it provides a series of living conditions that are suitable for sustaining human life beyond planet earth.
The Cassini mission that was undertaken in 2005 revealed that ice geysers, an incredibly thrilling discovery of this moon. The experts revealed that these geysers exude plumes that contain gaseous water vapors, particles of ice, and other gases, including methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen and ammonia. When these gases and plumes erupt, they rejuvenate the surface with new layers of ice, along with replenishing the E-ring of Saturn with new layers of icy materials.
The moon features a unique surface that has been termed as the Tiger Stripes by the expert, and it boosts a surprising geothermal characteristic that allows it to generate a heavy density of water vapors. These tiger stripes are a region that mark this smooth icy moon with deep and dangerously intimidating crevasses. It is believed that tidal forces provide it the heat it requires to initiate geological activities and keep the core of the planet warm.
This moon is hoarding an incredibly precious treasure as it is an incredibly large ocean-like planet filled with water, a fact that is revealed by its wobbling orbit movements, which can only be triggered when the interior is filled with liquid. Enceladus holds a promising potential to sustain human life because of its unique chemistry, presence of large bodies of oceans and abilities to heat its core.
7. Iapetus – The Two-Faced Moon
Iapetus orbits Saturn, it is tidally locked, which means that it always faces Saturn with the same side, despite maintaining a considerable distance from its parent planet. This is primarily what made it so hard for Iapetus to be sighted, and it has a peculiar ability to become bright and dim as it completes its orbit around Saturn. Cassini revealed this characteristic in 1671, and made accurate predictions about the two faces of Iapetus, one that is incredibly dark and the other vibrantly bright.
Scientists have put forward various theories to explain the darkness of Iapetus, blaming it on the volcanic activities that emitted hydrocarbons, which turned excessively dark due to the chemical reactions triggered by the UV rays of the Sun. Another prominent theory reveals that the moon is likely to be hoarding up particles from a closely positioned dark moon, none other than Phoebe.
In 2007, the Cassini probe mission revealed that process that caused this darkness, known as thermal segregation, which causes the darker particles to absorb a massive surge of heat radiated by the sun, causing all brightness within this region to turn dark. While the cooler side remains bright, the darker region continues to darken. Iapetus also features a striking equatorial rising that emerges 13km above its surface.