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, 311 (5766), 1393-401

Cassini Observes the Active South Pole of Enceladus


Cassini Observes the Active South Pole of Enceladus

C C Porco et al. Science.


Cassini has identified a geologically active province at the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus. In images acquired by the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS), this region is circumscribed by a chain of folded ridges and troughs at approximately 55 degrees S latitude. The terrain southward of this boundary is distinguished by its albedo and color contrasts, elevated temperatures, extreme geologic youth, and narrow tectonic rifts that exhibit coarse-grained ice and coincide with the hottest temperatures measured in the region. Jets of fine icy particles that supply Saturn's E ring emanate from this province, carried aloft by water vapor probably venting from subsurface reservoirs of liquid water. The shape of Enceladus suggests a possible intense heating epoch in the past by capture into a 1:4 secondary spin/orbit resonance.

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