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Waspie_Dwarf

Cassini Views Saturn's Moon Enceladus

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Dichotomy

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Enceladus is a world divided. To the north, we see copious amounts of craters and evidence of the many impacts the moon has suffered in its history. However, to the south we see a smoother body with wrinkles due to geologic activity.

Most solar system bodies lacking an atmosphere are heavily cratered like Enceladus' (313 miles or 504 kilometers across) northern region. However, the geologic activity in the south, including the famous plume above the moon's south pole, can erase craters and leave a younger, smoother-looking surface.

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North Pole of Enceladus

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In the north, Enceladus' surface appears to be about as old as any in the solar system. The south, however, is an entirely different story.

The north polar area of Enceladus (313 miles or 504 kilometers across) seen here is heavily cratered, an indication that the surface has not been renewed since quite long ago. But the south polar region shows signs of intense geologic activity, most prominently focused around the long fractures known as "tiger stripes" that spray gas and tiny particles from the moon.

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Slim Crescent of Ice

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The low angle of sunlight along the slim crescent of Saturn's moon Enceladus (313 miles or 504 kilometers across) highlights the many fractures and furrows on its icy surface.

This view looks toward the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Enceladus, which is dimly illuminated in the image above by sunlight reflected off Saturn.

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Jets from a Distance

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Enceladus' intriguing south-polar jets are viewed from afar, backlit by sunlight while the moon itself glows softly in reflected Saturn-shine.

Observations of the jets taken from various viewing geometries provide different insights into these remarkable features. Cassini has gathered a wealth of information in the hopes of unraveling the mysteries of the subsurface ocean that lurks beneath the moon's icy crust.

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Phantom Limb

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The brightly lit limb of a crescent Enceladus looks ethereal against the blackness of space. The rest of the moon, lit by light reflected from Saturn, presents a ghostly appearance.

Enceladus (313 miles or 504 kilometers across) is back-lit in this image, as is apparent by the thin crescent. However, the Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft (or phase) angle, at 141 degrees, is too low to make the moon's famous plumes easily visible.

arrow3.gif  Read More: NASA

 

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