This week on Science Weekend we look at new stunning images of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The active moon which has a subsurface salt ocean is revealing more of itself from data retrieved from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.
Our solar system never ceases to amaze us with new discoveries. A new paper by Rozen Robidel and his colleagues from the Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique in France discusses new detailed features on Enceladus.
The image were released by NASA yesterday. In the release NASA described the findings as follows:
New composite images made from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft data are the most detailed global infrared views ever produced of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. And data used to build those images provides strong evidence that the northern hemisphere of the moon has been resurfaced with ice from its interior.
During Cassini’s 13-year exploration of the Saturn system, the spacecraft’s Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) collected light — both visible to the human eye and infrared light — reflected off the planet, its rings, and its 10 major icy moons. VIMS then separated light into its various wavelengths, information that tells scientists more about the makeup of the material reflecting it.
Combined with detailed images captured by Cassini’s Imaging Science Subsystem, the VIMS data was used to make the new global spectral map of Enceladus. It shows that infrared signals correlate with the geologic activity known to be ongoing at the south pole, where plumes of ice grains and vapor shoot out from an ocean that lies under the icy crust. The so-called “tiger stripe” gashes, where the plumes originate, are seen here.NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Photojournal