Skip to comments.Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Enceladus Backlit by Saturn
Posted on 02/08/2012 4:28:02 AM PST by SunkenCiv
Explanation: This moon is shining by the light of its planet. Specifically, a large portion of Enceladus pictured above is illuminated primarily by sunlight first reflected from the planet Saturn. The result is that the normally snow-white moon appears in the gold color of Saturn's cloud tops. As most of the illumination comes from the image left, a labyrinth of ridges throws notable shadows just to the right of the image center, while the kilometer-deep canyon Labtayt Sulci is visible just below. The bright thin crescent on the far right is the only part of Enceladus directly lit by the Sun. The above image was taken last year by the robotic Cassini spacecraft during a close pass by by the enigmatic moon. Inspection of the lower part of this digitally sharpened image reveals plumes of ice crystals thought to originate in a below-surface sea.
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I do not know too much about geology (I do not even know if the study of the surface of foreign planets should be called geology), but the many surface features suggests vasts quantities of fluids running along the surface at one time. No point to that observation, the observation is the point.
Very cool picture.
Enceladus is close to Saturn and heavily affected by its gravity. The tidal forces push and pull at the ice crust of the tiny moon causing fissures to form. The cracks are a result of the icy crust breaking and reforming, hence the ice plumes near the southern pole.
I believe Jupiter’s moon Europa suffers the same fate.
Most of the surface appears to be ‘new’. It looks pristine, with hardly any impact craters. Caused by the ice ‘geysers’ I suppose.
Notice that the density of impact craters seems to be much higher near the “north” pole, while the remaining surface seems to be largely blemish-free. What would account for that?
Plumes of ice crystals....just wow.
Does one side always face the planet? (like our moon?)
Melting and refreezing prolly. Might have had an impact sometme or as someone upstream said, ice geysers?
Wow. That is totally amazing. It looks as if there is a housing tract there, plus desert sands blowing on most of the surfact, the Grand Canyon in the south, and then the meteorite craters in the north. Great IPOD, Mr. Civilizations.
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