Giant icy avalanches on Saturn’s moon Iapetus fall from great heights. The ice reaches high speeds—and then something odd happens.
Somehow, its coefficient of friction drops, and it begins to flow rather than tumble, traveling many miles before it dissipates the energy of the fall and finally comes to rest.
“We see landslides everywhere in the solar system,” says Kelsi Singer, graduate student in earth and planetary sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, “but Saturn’s icy moon Iapetus has more giant landslides than any body other than Mars.”
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Photo credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute