Image: Facing Enceladus

Apr 23, 2013
This face-on colour view of Enceladus was taken by the international Cassini spacecraft on 31 January 2011, from a distance of 81 000 km, and processed by amateur astronomer Gordan Ugarković. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/G. Ugarković

(Phys.org) —A patchwork network of frozen ridges and troughs cover the face of Enceladus, Saturn's most enigmatic of icy moons.

This face-on colour view of Enceladus was taken by the international Cassini spacecraft on 31 January 2011, from a distance of 81 000 km, and processed by amateur astronomer Gordan Ugarković.

Saturn's imposing massages the moon's icy shell, buckling it into ridges that tower over deep fractures.

The cavernous scar towards the south, which may plunge to depths of a kilometre, cuts across other features, indicating its relative youth. By contrast, the cratered region to the north, which is split in two by a vast swath of grooved terrain, hints at a much older surface that has so far escaped the resurfacing experienced elsewhere.

Enceladus is a moon bursting at the seams: along the , plumes of ice particles mixed with water vapour, salts and organic material jet from fissures nicknamed 'tiger stripes'.

Some of the plumes pump their spray into space at speeds of over 2000 km/h, injecting particles into Saturn's E-ring.

The chemistry of the plumes suggests that there may be a hidden beneath the moon's surface that could provide a suitable habitat for life.

A thin crescent of is illuminated by incident sunlight coming from the right hand side of this frame, including sunlight that has been reflected by Saturn onto the moon.

Explore further: NASA's Europa mission begins with selection of science instruments

Related Stories

Space Image: Rings, Titan and Enceladus

Apr 19, 2012

Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus hangs below the gas giant’s rings while Titan lurks in the background, in this new image taken by the Cassini spacecraft.   Faint detail of the tiger stripe mark ...

Orion's belt lights up Cassini's view of Enceladus

Oct 19, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Cassini mission will take advantage of the position of two of the three stars in Orion's belt when the spacecraft flies by Saturn's moon Enceladus on Wed., Oct. 19. As the hot, bright ...

Enceladus' jets reach all the way to its sea

Mar 20, 2013

Thanks to the Cassini mission we've known about the jets of icy brine spraying from the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus for about 8 years now, but this week it was revealed at the 44th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference outside Houst ...

Cassini flyby focuses on Saturn's moon Enceladus

Nov 08, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Saturn's moon Enceladus shows its icy face and famous plumes in raw, unprocessed images captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during its successful flyby on Nov. 6, 2011.

Recommended for you

Watching worms will help humans age more gracefully

7 hours ago

The plot of many a science fiction TV series or movie revolves around the premise that people traveling long distances in space age more slowly than their counterparts on Earth. Now, tiny worms who spent ...

New project aims to establish a human colony on Mars

15 hours ago

MarsPolar, a newly started international venture is setting its sights on the Red Planet. The project consisting of specialists from Russia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, U.S. and Ukraine has come up with a bol ...

Ceres bright spots sharpen but questions remain

May 25, 2015

The latest views of Ceres' enigmatic white spots are sharper and clearer, but it's obvious that Dawn will have to descend much lower before we'll see crucial details hidden in this overexposed splatter of ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.