At last, on July 1, 2004, the Cassini spacecraft fired off its breaking rocket, glided into orbit around Saturn, and started taking pictures that left scientists in awe. It wasn't as if they hadn't been prepared for such wonders. The weeks leading up to Cassini's arrival at Saturn had served to intensify their already heated anticipation. It seemed as if each approach-picture taken was more enticing than the one preceding it.
As time passed, the region would have cooled down considerably and contracted--thus pulling away from its surroundings and forming fractures akin to the cracks that form in mud as it becomes dry--but on a considerably larger scale.
Astronomers have known for years that the temperatures of the lunar near-side are higher than those on the far-side. This is because the abundances of the heat- producing elements uranium and thorium are greater on the near-side than on the far-side. In addition, these higher temperatures are a consequence of the fact that most of the volcanic eruptions occurred on the lunar near-side.