The Mystery of Dione’s Craters

The Astronomy Picture of the Day site features Dione:

They ask:

Why does one half of Dione have more craters than the other? Start with the fact that Saturn‘s moon Dione always has one side that faces Saturn, and always has one side that faces away. This is similar to Earth’s Moon. This tidal locking means that one side of Dione always leads as the moon progresses in its orbit, while the other side always trails. Dione should therefore have undergone a significant amount of impacts on its leading half. But the current leading half of Dione is less cratered than the trailing half! A possible explanation is that some impacts were so large they spun Dione, sometimes changing the part that suffered the highest impact rate before the moon’s spin again became locked. Pictured above, it is the top part of Dione that appears significantly more cratered than the bottom half.

Dione has no large craters, so this explanation doesn’t satisfy me. If more than one impact spun Dione, the odds seem very much against them tilting the moon far off from an “average” tidal locked position.

The likelihood of volcanic activity on the moon is far more reasonable a choice.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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