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With Explore the Planets, investigate the planets, their moons, and understand the processes that shape them. By G. Jeffrey Taylor, Ph.D. See our DVD collection.
Two views of the strange surface of Iapetus. Some parts of the moon's surface are bright white, while other regions are very dark. These images were captured by the Cassini spacecraft.
Click on image for full size
Images courtesy of NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

The Surface of Iapetus

The surface of Iapetus is very unique. No other moon has its half-black and half-white appearance. It appears to be resurfaced on the dark side with a dark and smooth substance, and on its bright side appears to be heavily cratered. The process which caused this strange darkening is unknown.


Last modified October 8, 2009 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA