Heat output from the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus is much greater than was previously thought possible, according to a new analysis of data collected by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The study was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research on March 4.Data from Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer of Enceladus' south polar terrain, which is marked by linear fissures, indicate that the internal heat-generated power is about 15.8 gigawatts, approximately 2.6 times the power output of all the hot springs in the Yellowstone region, or comparable to 20 coal-fuelled power stations. This is more than an order of magnitude higher than scientists had predicted, according to Carly Howett, the lead author of study, who is a postdoctoral researcher at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., and a composite infrared spectrometer science team member.
On the heels of a successful close flyby of Saturn's moon Enceladus, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is returning images of Enceladus and the nearby moon Dione.Several pictures show Enceladus backlit, with the dark outline of the moon crowned by glowing jets from the south polar region. The images show several separate jets, or sets of jets, emanating from the fissures known as "tiger stripes." Scientists will use the images to pinpoint the jet source locations on the surface and learn more about their shape and variability.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft will be making its close flyby of the northern hemisphere of Saturn's moon Enceladus today, Monday, Dec. 20. The closest approach will take place at 5:08 PM PST (8:08 EST) on Dec. 20, or 1:08 AM UTC on Dec. 21. The spacecraft will zip by at an altitude of about 48 kilometres above the icy moon's surface.
Cassini spacecraft successfully dipped near the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus on Nov. 30.NASA's Cassini spacecraft successfully dipped near the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus on Nov. 30. Though Cassini's closest approach took it to within about 48 kilometres of the moon's northern hemisphere, the spacecraft also captured shadowy images of the tortured south polar terrain and the brilliant jets that spray out from it.Many of the raw images feature darkened terrain because winter has descended upon the southern hemisphere of Enceladus. But sunlight behind the moon backlights the jets of water vapour and icy particles. In some images, the jets line up in rows, forming curtains of spray.
New images and data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft give scientists a unique Saturn-lit view of active fissures through the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus. They reveal a more complicated web of warm fractures than previously thought. Scientists working jointly with Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer and its high-resolution imaging camera have constructed the highest-resolution heat intensity maps yet of the hottest part of a region of long fissures spraying water vapour and icy particles from Enceladus. These fissures have been nicknamed "tiger stripes." Additional high-resolution spectrometer maps of one end of the tiger stripes Alexandria Sulcus and Cairo Sulcus reveal never-before-seen warm fractures that branch off like split ends from the main tiger stripe trenches. They also show an intriguing warm spot isolated from other active surface fissures.
Managers of NASA's Cassini spacecraft mission expect to get a full stream of data during this week's flyby of the Saturnian moon Enceladus, according to a release from Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the mission for NASA. Cassini resumed normal operations last week after going into safe mode on Nov. 2.The flyby on Nov. 30 will bring Cassini to within about 48 kilometres of the surface of Enceladus. At 61 degrees north latitude, this encounter and its twin three weeks later at the same altitude and latitude, are the closest Cassini will come to the northern hemisphere surface of Enceladus during the extended Solstice mission.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft discovered a giant plume of water gushing from cracks in the surface near the south pole of Saturns moon Enceladus in 2005, indicating that there was a reservoir of water beneath the ice. Cassini data also suggest that the south polar has been continuously releasing about 13 billion watts of energy. But how does Enceladus stay warm enough to maintain liquid water underground?In smaller moons like Enceladus, the cache of radioactive elements usually is not massive enough to produce significant heat for long. So, scientists have considered the role of tidal heating - the gravitational pull from Saturn as Enceladus orbits the planet - as a way to keep Enceladus warm enough for liquid water to remain under its surface.