Thursday, August 16, 2007

"The universe...

is not only stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." (Borrowed loosely from Sir Arthur Eddington)

There's a strange moon whizzing around Saturn that's shaped, oddly, like a walnut.

Now astronomers find that Iapetus got its nutty shape from a super-fast spin that was frozen into place early in the solar system's formation.

When the Cassini spacecraft snapped close-ups of Saturn's moons in 2005, it revealed a bulging waistline of rock along the equator of the now slowly spinning Iapetus. Astronomers think this characteristic shape persists because Iapetus was cryogenically frozen in time about 3 billion years ago, during the moon's "teen" years. [More]
The data pouring into our knowledge base from space missions will slowly change our view of everything, I believe - but nothing more so than our place in the universe.

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