NASA Image Reveals A Dichotomy In The Surface Features Of Enceladus

Posted: Mar 7 2017, 12:44pm CST | by , Updated: Mar 7 2017, 8:59pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

NASA’s Image Reveals a Dichotomy in the Surface Features of Enceladus
Credit: NASA

There is a sharp contrast between the southern and northern regions of Saturn's moon

Over the course of the Cassini mission, observations have shown that Saturn’s moon Enceladus is a weird world. The north side of the moon is heavily cratered while its south pole is almost entirely free of impact craters. The region contains a relatively smoother surface with wrinkles, indicating intense geological activity from the recent past. NASA’s new image also highlights this stark contrast between Enceladus’ southern and northern regions.

“Most solar system bodies lacking an atmosphere are heavily cratered like Enceladus’ northern region. However, the geological activity in the south, including the famous plume above the moon’s south pole, can erase craters and leave a younger, smoother looking surface.” NASA’s statement reads.

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Enceladus, Saturn’s sixth largest moon, has been the subject of intense interest since Cassini spacecraft reached the planet in 2004. During the first few years after its arrival, Cassini discovered that Enceladus continuously spews a plume of gas and icy grains from the region around its south pole, which extends miles into space. Since then, around a hundred geysers ejecting plumes of water and ice have been discovered.

Enceladus also has a global ocean of water beneath its icy crust. Since liquid water is a key ingredient for life, researchers believe Enceladus is one of those few places in our solar system (besides Earth) where life could exist.

The image was taken on November 27 with Cassini spacecraft's narrow-angle camera, when the spacecraft was at the distance of approximately 41,000 miles from the moon.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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