According to UFO conspiracy theorists, Iapetus, Saturn’s natural satellite or moon, is the most baffling object in our solar system, and there are compelling reasons: from observations of its profoundly anomalous features to belief it is an artificial or intelligently designed structure, possibly a massive alien base, a UFO parked in orbit around Saturn by technologically accomplished aliens, or an artificial structure serving a purpose similar to the Death Star in the Star Wars movie franchise.
Iapetus is one of the ringed planet Saturn’s 62 known natural satellites. It is the third-largest natural satellite of Saturn discovered in 1671 by astronomer Jean-Dominique Cassini (Giovanni Domenico Cassini), using a modest telescope.
Images of Iapetus obtained from NASA’s Cassini unmanned spacecraft in 2007 revealed baffling anomalous features which, according to conspiracy theorists, compel the conclusion that the space body is an artificial structure. Iapetus’ anomalous features, according to conspiracy theorists, point to the presence in our solar system of an advanced technological civilization that preceded Earth’s.
Before the Cassini mission, the first close images of Iapetus were sent on November 14, 1980, by NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft which approached Saturn at a distance of a few hundred thousand miles.
When he discovered the mysterious body in 1671, the astronomer Cassini had concluded from the pattern of dimming, disappearance, and reappearance of Iapetus as he watched its 79-day orbit around Saturn that the leading hemisphere of Iapetus, known as Cassini Regio, was about 10 times darker than the brighter trailing hemisphere, consisting of the Roncevaux Terra and the Saragossa Terra.
He also concluded correctly that like Earth’s satellite, the Moon, Iapetus exhibits a spin that ensures that one hemisphere faces Saturn continuously.
The difference in coloration between the dark and bright sides of the space body traces the mystical Chinese yin-yang pattern, the first striking anomalous feature of Iapetus.
Although several suggestions have been put forward to explain it, the cause of the “two-tone” coloration of Iapetus remains a mystery, even after closer observations by Voyagers 1 and 2.
But many conspiracy theorists believe that when assessed in the context of several other anomalous features, the yin-yang geometry of the satellite’s two-tone dichotomy could not have been due simply to chance.
When the Cassini spacecraft approached at a distance of about 40,000 miles on December 31, 2016, it snapped photos that showed Iapetus’ remarkably anomalous features in even greater detail. One of the new revelations from the Cassini images was that Iapetus does not have a spherical shape like Earth’s only natural satellite. The shape is neither spherical nor ellipsoidal but is “squashed” at the poles and “bulging” at the equatorial “waistline.”
The observation puzzled astronomers because, based on calculations that take into consideration several properties, such as Iapetus’ density, orbital characteristics, and size, it should be a perfect sphere.
Iapetus’ non-spherical shape sets it apart from Saturn’s other moons and scientists have been unable to explain why Iapetus is not spherical, although a number of theories have been proposed.
A third and probably the most astounding anomalous feature of Iapetus is a prominent and bizarre equatorial ridge, about 1,300 km long, 12-13 km high and 20 kilometers wide, that some have termed “The Great Wall of Iapetus.”
At 20 km high, the weird ridge, about two times higher than Mt. Everest, is probably the highest “mountain range” in our solar system.
This strange and baffling feature of Iapetus is unique and no such feature has been observed in any other space body occurring naturally in our solar system and beyond. Astronomers and astrogeologists remain unable to explain the exotic geological processes that could have formed the ridge and why it follows the equator almost perfectly.
To many conspiracy theorists Iapetus’ ridge looks uncannily analogous to the rivet joints-like groove that runs along the equator of the artificial globe of the Death Star in the Star Wars franchise.
Iapetus’ ridge and squashed poles give it an unusual overall walnut shape, and according to some conspiracy theorists, analysis of its geometric form reveals that it is an “eroded and truncated icosahedron,” that is, a polyhedron with 20 faces.
The overall geometric form of Iapetus proves it is an artificial and intelligently designed structure, according conspiracy theorists. Natural satellites in the size range of Iapetus and smaller — Iapetus is about 900 miles across — are always spherical due to the effect of gravitational forces.
A natural body with such complex geometric shape is unknown.
Struggling to resolve the riddle of Iapetus, astronomers have proposed three possible explanations of the ridge and the overall complex geometric shape.
Some have suggested that the ridge could be composed of icy material that escaped from beneath the surface and then solidified. Others suggested it had a ring system early in its evolution which formed the ridge. A third suggestion is that the ridge is the result of convective overturn process.
But conspiracy theorists add a fourth suggestion that mainstream science shuns: That the fact of geologically inexplicable features, such the “Great Wall of Iapetus,” could be proof that it is not a natural satellite of Saturn but the artificial construct of intelligent and technologically advanced space-faring alien races.
Conspiracy theorists insist that no astrogeologist has proposed a viable geological model to explain a 13 kilometer high wall that is literally a “Maginot Line” girding the equator of the space body.
‘That’s no moon’: Someone just spotted the actual Death Star next to Saturn https://t.co/GXz8V8Srl6— Metro (@MetroUK) May 11, 2016
Closer inspection of the ridge reveals geometric complexity, including a 60-mile section consisting of three smaller ridges running parallel to each other and to the planet’s equator. The challenge of explaining Iapetus’ “Great Wall” raises the possibility that it is an artificial structure, such as an alien spaceship, an alien base, or an alien Death Star, conspiracy theorists argue.
The structure, according to conspiracy theorists, could be the result of deliberate modification of an existing natural object or an artificial object built from scratch by an advanced technological civilization.
The biggest challenge of all, according to conspiracy theorists, is explaining who built Iapetus and why.
[Image via Shutterstock]