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Iapetus: Seed Ship of Life or Ark of the Goofy?

Updated on October 4, 2015
Your tax dollars at work.
Your tax dollars at work. | Source
A closer look at dead cold rock, or a seed ship. You decide.
A closer look at dead cold rock, or a seed ship. You decide. | Source

Saturn is a busy place

Circling our planetary neighbor Saturn we find over 61 different celestial bodies, all but one of which are not named Iapetus. I don't know how to pronounce this oddly shaped name.

It looks, the name that is, like a half-spelled word that was abandoned by Charles Dickens when he got famous or something like that. Whoever came up with the name surely had many other great names they used for their pets and children. It was probably late at night and he was out of Gatorade and he needed a quick name for a newspaper article. Perhaps it was never intended to be taken seriously and to this day the family of that naming guy gets together for a good laugh every Christmas.

Funny names aside, Iapetus really rocks. It's also really a rock.

This what an artist thinks the orbiting thing looks like. We tried to send the artist but he wouldn't give up his rent-controlled loft in Soho.
This what an artist thinks the orbiting thing looks like. We tried to send the artist but he wouldn't give up his rent-controlled loft in Soho. | Source

Once we got very close to Iapetus

Back in 2004 the top song according to Billboard Magazine was "Yeah!" by Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris. Those are also funny names but none of them have been to Iapetus. While Usher and his featured friends sang out of their collective mouths, the space probe Cassini–Huygens wended across our Solar System, bent on acquiring orbit around Saturn. As of this writing it is still there. Usher will also not go away.

The Huygens portion of the mission ended up as a relay station. Long into the Saturnish night it receives information from its friend Cassini and shoots that data back to earnest satellite receivers on Earth. This arrangement works out well.

You see it, right?
You see it, right?

Iapetus looks like a walnut

When you're a hungry squirrel, everything looks like a walnut. When you desperately want meaning in your life, everything in outer space looks like it somehow caused Earth to sprout dinosaurs and gluten-free bread.

Many well-meaning online denizens assert that this walnut-like appearance lends credence to Iapetus somehow falling solidly into the seed of life category of unexplained occurrences. We here at the Institute for the Painfully Obvious might beg to differ but everyone is entitled to their opinions. We do not doubt for one moment the veracity of anonymous blog posts celebrating where seeds might have come from.

Iapetus is really weird, man.

This little planetoid is far out, and not just in a 1.6 billion kilometer kind of way. Even if you were standing on Ipapetus and you weren't dead from asphyxia you would obviously notice the oddly designed night and day sides of your new home.

It is indeed true that most planets and moons have a dark side and a light side: this oddball walnut has 1/2 of the light side and 1/2 of the dark side facing Saturn. As you might guess the other 1/2 of the dark side and 1/2 of the light side face away from Saturn. There are no other 1/2s to face anywhere but if there were you can be sure that someone would credit the invention of Friday afternoons to that mystery moon Iapetus.

NASA even thinks it's weird

NASA is loathe to offend anyone, lest funding be cut. Our little space agency constantly yearns to please all 300 million customers in the United States. To learn that NASA offers wacked-out opinions of Iapetus just might clinch any seed-of-life theories floating freely in cyberspace.

“Iapetus is a two-toned moon. The leading hemisphere is as dark as a freshly tarred street, and the white, trailing hemisphere resembles freshly fallen snow . . . "

Whoop, there it is1.


In conclusion, thank you for reading this far. You surely learned something. Feel free to stop by the gift shop and pick up a walnut milkshake or T-shirt or refrigerator magnet. You can also leave a comment if you scroll down a little more. If you are drbj then I am depending upon you to leave a comment.

Nasa / Jpl


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1 "Whoomp!" soared to Number 2 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1993, by Tag Team

Here you go. Iapetus Street.


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    • nicomp profile imageAUTHOR

      nicomp really 

      3 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @aviannovice : You can have all the walnuts and water, in any order you like.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Can I have a bag of water with my walnut, or a walnut with my bag of water?

    • nicomp profile imageAUTHOR

      nicomp really 

      3 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @Mel Carriere : Indeed the Cassini project would never happened without government confiscation of private funds. If you can find space exploration in the US Constitution, please let me know. I cannot.

    • nicomp profile imageAUTHOR

      nicomp really 

      3 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @breakfastpop : Leave my brain out of this! :)

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      3 years ago from San Diego California

      I feel sorry for the children on Iapetus Street who cannot pronounce the name of the place they live. We definitely need government giveaways like the Postal Service, and NASA for that matter, to help these traumatized youth so they don't go on school rampages when they learn their street is a walnut. Voted up unpronounceable. Nice work!

    • breakfastpop profile image


      3 years ago

      You have a remarkable brain. NASA should study you!

    • nicomp profile imageAUTHOR

      nicomp really 

      3 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @drBJ , thanks for bailing me out yet again. Someday we will all travel to Iapetus for a picnic.

      I have the Walnut Cartel in my back pocket, so to speak.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      I cannot believe that I have survived this long without the knowledge that you, nicomp, from the bottom of your heart and other sentient portions, shared with your adoring public this date in this remarkable essay.

      One note of caution, though. Watch your back. The Walnut Cartel is very sensitive.


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