Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

What's that sparkle in Cassini's eye?

Date:
December 3, 2011
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
The moon Enceladus, one of the jewels of the Saturn system, sparkles peculiarly bright in new images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The images of the moon, the first ever taken of Enceladus with Cassini's synthetic aperture radar, reveal new details of some of the grooves in the moon's south polar region and unexpected textures in the ice. These images, obtained on Nov. 6, 2011, are the highest-resolution images of this region obtained so far.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft obtained these views of the south polar area of Saturn's moon Enceladus in visible and near-visible (ultraviolet and infrared) light and synthetic-aperture radar (SAR).
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

The moon Enceladus, one of the jewels of the Saturn system, sparkles peculiarly bright in new images obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The images of the moon, the first ever taken of Enceladus with Cassini's synthetic aperture radar, reveal new details of some of the grooves in the moon's south polar region and unexpected textures in the ice. These images, obtained on Nov. 6, 2011, are the highest-resolution images of this region obtained so far.

Related Articles


The area on Enceladus observed by Cassini's radar instrument does not include the famous "tiger stripes," fissures that eject great plumes of ice particles and water vapor, but covers regions just a few hundred miles away from the stripes. Scientists are scrutinizing an area around 63 degrees south latitude and 51 degrees west longitude that appears to be very rough, a texture that shows up as very bright in the radar images.

"It's puzzling why this is some of the brightest stuff Cassini has seen," said Steve Wall, deputy team lead of Cassini's radar team, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "One possibility is that the area is studded with rounded ice rocks. But we can't yet explain how that would happen."

Scientists are also intrigued by an area around 65 degrees south latitude and 293 degrees west longitude, which shows a close-up view of grooved, water-ice bedrock. The new images reveal undulations and other intricate patterns that had not been seen previously. They also now have measurements of the heights and depths of the grooves in this area, with the central groove measuring about 2,100 feet (650 meters) deep and 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) wide. It has slopes of about 33 degrees.

These images of Enceladus show some similarity to those obtained of Saturn's largest moon Titan. Titan's large feature Xanadu is also very bright, as are areas surrounding the crater Sinlap. Whether the bright areas seen here are due to the same, or very different, processes will be a subject of discussion as scientists continue to learn more about the moons of Saturn.

The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The radar instrument was built by JPL and the Italian Space Agency, working with team members from the U.S. and several European countries. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. For more information about the Cassini mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov .


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "What's that sparkle in Cassini's eye?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111201220532.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2011, December 3). What's that sparkle in Cassini's eye?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111201220532.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "What's that sparkle in Cassini's eye?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111201220532.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 1, 2015) NASA Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts perform their third spacewalk in eight days outside the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Astronauts are ahead of schedule with hardware upgrades to the International Space Station, despite last week&apos;s spacesuit water leak scare. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Hole 12 Billion Times the Size of Sun Discovered at Dawn of Universe

Black Hole 12 Billion Times the Size of Sun Discovered at Dawn of Universe

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) Scientists are saying they&apos;ve spotted a black hole 12 billion time bigger than the sun. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Spots Two Bright Points On Ceres

NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Spots Two Bright Points On Ceres

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) NASA scientists still don&apos;t have a clear picture of the bright spots showing up on the surface of Ceres, a minor planet in the asteroid belt. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins