Happy Valentine's Day. Love, Rhea

By Phil Plait | February 14, 2010 12:03 pm

Same shape, different moon…

An interplanetary dedication of love for all you starry-eyed geeks:


This is an image from Cassini. It’s a closeup of a crater on Rhea, a moon of Saturn about half the size of our own natural satellite. I love how the small crater and ridge inside the bigger crater make it look like the heart is winking!

In the full size image you can see what looks like a ridge to the left of the heart, but in fact that’s the edge of a vast crater on the surface of Rhea. You can see it better in this image of the whole moon, where I’ve marked the location of the heart:


I don’t know exactly what’s going on with this heart; is it a crater that expanded when the walls collapsed around it, so it’s no longer round? Or is it a sink hole, where the whole thing is a collapse feature? I love pictures like this, showing us the diversity and cool-factor of other worlds in our solar system.

And, of course: Happy Valentine’s Day.

Related posts:
Have a cosmic Valentine’s Day
Scientific Valentines
The beating heart of W5
Have an astronomical Valentine’s Day

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Humor

Comments (7)

  1. Dan

    That image looks as much like a heart as a burnt grilled cheese sandwich looks like the virgin Mary :-p

  2. jcm

    The people at Sixty Symbols also made a Valentine Special:

  3. MadScientist

    It looks to me like a sheep’s scrotum – I must have spent too much time on a farm. How about a photo of a cow’s heart or a pig’s heart so folks learn what hearts really look like?

  4. Gary Ansorge

    That’s one of the things I like about you Phil.

    You’re not afraid of a bit of sentimentality.

    Periodolia, the universes’ secret code. We are patterns seeking patterns of like inclination,,,

    SO, how come the universe never calls me back?

    Gary 7

  5. John Paradox

    Happy Statehood Day from Arizona.


  6. Messier Tidy Upper

    Is there a word for seeing heart-shaped patterns in things in the same way there’s the word ‘paradolia’ (spelling?) for seeing face-shaped patterns? ;-)

  7. jeremy

    It’s a two-fer. In the right ‘lobe’, along the top is a smaller heart.


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