Fresh Tiger Stripes on Enceladus
Date: 28 Jun 2009
Pictured here is a high resolution Cassini image of Enceladus from a close flyby.
Do underground oceans vent through the tiger stripes (in false-color blue) on Saturn's moon Enceladus? The long features dubbed tiger stripes are known to spew ice from the moon's icy interior into space, creating a cloud of fine ice particles over the moon's south pole and creating Saturn's mysterious E-ring.
Why Enceladus is active remains a mystery, as the neighboring moon Mimas, approximately the same size, appears to be quite dead. An analysis of dust captured by Cassini found evidence for sodium as expected in a deep salty ocean. Such research is particularly interesting since such an ocean would be a candidate to contain life. Conversely however, recent Earth-based observations of ice ejected by Enceladus into Saturn's E-Ring showed no evidence of the expected sodium.
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA