Saturn’s Moon Enceladus Captures Astronomers’ Attention Due to The Presence of Fresh Ice

Enceladus is one of the most interesting places from our solar system, and there’s no wonder why NASA sent the Cassini spacecraft there to take detailed images for 13 years. The most recent composite images brought by Cassini are detailed infrared samples of Enceladus, and they reveal something pretty immersive.

Data used for building those images provide strong evidence that ice from the interior of Enceladus had resurfaced on the northern hemisphere of the moon.

New global spectral map of Enceladus

Thanks to Cassini’s Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) that collected light reflected off Saturn and its ten major icy moons, along with detailed images provided by Cassini’s Imaging Science Subsystem, a new global spectral map of Enceladus has emerged.

A part of the same infrared features appears in the northern hemisphere of Saturn’s moon. It means that the northern area is covered in fresh ice. This may happen due either to icy jets or to a more gradual movement of ice among fractures in the crust.

Gabriel Tobie, a co-author of the new study and a VIMS scientist with the University of Nantes in France, declares:

The infrared shows us that the surface of the south pole is young, which is not a surprise because we knew about the jets that blast icy material there,

Now, thanks to these infrared eyes, you can go back in time and say that one large region in the northern hemisphere appears also young and was probably active not that long ago, in geologic timelines.

Saturn is the champion of the solar system regarding the number of discovered moons – 82. Even Jupiter, the largest planet from our solar system, has fewer moons revolving around it than Saturn: only 79.

The new research was published in Icarus.

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Cristian Antonescu

About the Author: Cristian Antonescu

With a strong passion for astronomy since he was little and hundreds of articles written about this field, Cristian is a reliable writer who keeps the website up-to-date with news about the wonders of the Universe.

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