Planets and Moons  ID: 12088

Dione's Icy Canyons

Dione is one of 62 known moons of Saturn. Fuzzy photos from NASA’s Voyager missions in the 1980s revealed distinctive white streaks, called "wispy terrain," slicing across its surface. Today, thanks to sharper images captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which has orbited the Saturn system since 2004, we know that the features are a network of canyons. The canyon's ice-covered walls can tower hundreds of feet high, and in some places, stretch for hundreds of miles. But the question is how did they form? Dione's landscape sparkles with frozen water, hinting at an ancient liquid ocean hidden below ground. This internal sea might have formed cracks in the moon as it froze, or the cracks could be caused by the combined gravitational push and pull of Saturn and its other moons. Data from Cassini collected during its flybys of Dione could offer new clues. Explore the images to learn more.

Story Credits

Bonnie Buratti (NASA/JPL CalTech)

Lead Writer:
Amy McDermott (USRA)

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Images courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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