Happy Valentine's Day. Love, Rhea

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Feb. 14 2010 12:03 PM

Happy Valentine's Day. Love, Rhea

Same shape, different moon...

An interplanetary dedication of love for all you starry-eyed geeks:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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cassini_rhea_heart

This is an image from Cassini. It's a closeup of a crater on Rhea, a moon of Saturn about half the size of our own natural satellite. I love how the small crater and ridge inside the bigger crater make it look like the heart is winking!

In the full size image you can see what looks like a ridge to the left of the heart, but in fact that's the edge of a vast crater on the surface of Rhea. You can see it better in this image of the whole moon, where I've marked the location of the heart:

cassini_rhea_heartcontext

I don't know exactly what's going on with this heart; is it a crater that expanded when the walls collapsed around it, so it's no longer round? Or is it a sink hole, where the whole thing is a collapse feature? I love pictures like this, showing us the diversity and cool-factor of other worlds in our solar system.

And, of course: Happy Valentine's Day.

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