Enceladus: Small but feisty | Science News

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


News

Enceladus: Small but feisty

By
8:58am, August 23, 2005

Saturn's moon Enceladus, a tiny outpost in the frigid outer solar system, ought to be cold and geologically dead. But observations by the Cassini spacecraft, which flew within 175 kilometers of Enceladus on July 14 (SN: 7/30/05, p. 69: Available to subscribers at Cassini eyes youthful-looking Saturnian moon), reveal that it continues to undergo eruptions "right this minute," says Cassini researcher John Spencer of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo. NASA announced the newest findings on July 29.

A spectrometer on board Cassini has detected a large cloud of water vapor above the moon's south pole. Large, linear fractures at the pole, some of them dubbed tiger stripes, suggest that ice may continually vaporize from these cracks and replenish the cloud.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News