Thar’ She Blows

Enceladus
Four Vents at the South Pole of Enceladus
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

Four plumes of water ice can be seen in this image of Enceladus, a 504 kilometer wide moon of Saturn. The image was taken by the Cassini spacecraft at a distance of 617,000 kilometers last December and was just released. The Sun is behind Enceladus and backlights the plumes spewing into space. The moon itself is brightly lit from sunlight reflecting off of Saturn.

Tidal forces created by Saturn stretch and compress the moon’s interior, creating four “tiger stripes” that stretch several hundred kilometers across the south pole. The jets, located along the 500 meter deep stripes, are composed of water vapor and ice, methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen.

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One thought on “Thar’ She Blows

  1. Pingback: Cassini Tasting The Jets of Enceladus « The National Space Society of Phoenix

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