The researchers have observed mysterious stripes on Saturn’s moon Dione and believe that these stripes are linear virgae originated likely due to the materials draping on the planet’s surface. This latest study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, is drawn from the information collected by the Cassini mission of NASA, which got over in the previous fall.
In the images captured by the spacecraft just before getting destroyed, researchers observed straight, long, vibrant stripes on Dione’s surface, which appeared quite similar to the features discovered on Rhea, one of the other Saturn’s moons.
The stripes on Dione are parallel and appear quite young and unaffected by the troposphere. As per geologist Alex Patthoff from the Planetary Science Institute, the orientation, as well as linearity of the stripes, is something which has never been noticed in the solar system earlier.
This is the reason why Patthoff and his colleagues decided to find out whether the stripes originated due to some geological activity on the moon or due to any kind of external forces. To determine, they made a list and went through all potential explanations like maybe the boulders draping on Dione’s surface left traces behind, maybe the surface of the little moon split and the fragments are stroking against one another. Or, maybe the stripes have been caused due to huge impacts which shook the moon.
However, just one explanation matched actually with what the researchers saw on the surface of Dione, i.e. the streaks formed due to the material falling on the moon’s surface from the Saturn’s rings, passing comets as well as the co-orbital Saturn moons. These explanations show that if the researchers can look at and know the stripes better, they might get an idea of whether life on Saturn’s moon Dione is plausible or not.