The Many Faces of Enceladus

A close-up of Enceladus' creased and icy surface

A recently uploaded raw image from Cassini, this is a full-frontal view of 318-mile-wide Enceladus taken on November 30, 2010 during the spacecraft’s most recent flyby. Of particular note here is the moon’s heavily grooved and fractured surface, mostly water ice and rock, but strangely split into two sections of differing terrain – most noticeably on its southern hemisphere. The left side is dominated by large craters and horizontal fractures, while the right side has a somewhat less intense but still heavily-textured “corrugated” surface reminiscent of elephant skin.

Cassini looks down into a jetting "tiger stripe". (August 2010)

In fact, Enceladus features 5 different types of terrain, some clearly older than others (due to the presence of more craters), pointing at resurfacing processes having taken place within the (geologically) recent past – or even the existence of a liquid interior. And of course, we all know about the ice geysers! There’s definitely a lot going on on this little moon of Saturn…barely as wide as the state of Arizona, Enceladus is really a fascinating world full of surprises!

Read more about Enceladus here.

Image: NASA / JPL / SSI. Edited by J. Major.

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2 Comments

  1. Wow! Do they have any idea why it has such a drastic change in surface terrian? Looks like two moons cut in half and molded together.

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