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Impact Crater Chain on Callisto


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This image taken by the Voyager spacecraft of an unnamed crater chain is one of the longest of 12 or so such chains on Callisto, one of Jupiter's 4 planet-sized satellites. It is 360 kilometers long and the largest individual crater is approximately 24 kilometers across. Jay Melosh and Paul Schenk, reporting in the October 21, 1993, issue of Nature, propose that these and similar mysterious crater chains on Ganymede and Callisto probably formed from the past impact of comets tidally disrupted during close passage of Jupiter, similar to comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 which will strike Jupiter in July, 1994. They conclude that tidal splitting of comets is relatively common and can occur roughly once per century.

photo credit: Paul Schenk/Lunar & Planetary Institute

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