View Full Version : Discussion: Cassini Finds Active Ice on Enceladus

2005-Aug-01, 12:35 PM
Here's a link to the Cassini team's story about things discovered during the recent flyby of Saturn's small moon Enceladus:

http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/press-rele....cfm?newsID=592 (http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/press-release-details.cfm?newsID=592)

This story tells us that Enceladus is the major source for material in Saturn's "E ring". It also says that at the moment we do not know what makes the South pole of this moon have surface spots that are 30K warmer than its equator.

There will be another even closer flyby of this moon later in the mission.

2005-Aug-01, 03:05 PM
The Planetary Society (http://www.planetary.org/news/2005/enceladus_active_0730.html) also ran a similar story and they showed temperature profiles across the "Tiger Stripes" features on Encealdus' south pole. It showed that the stripes were warmer (by 30 K) than the surrounding ice. Apparently something is heating these grooves (or whatever we should call them). Would such a temperature difference be enough work as "ice volcanoes"?


2005-Aug-01, 03:57 PM
SUMMARY: Instead of being a dead, icy moon, Cassini has found that Enceladus is actually quite active. This moon of Saturn has a huge cloud of water vapour over its southern pole, and warmer fractures. The moon is relatively close to Saturn, so the intense tidal pressures are keeping it warmer than it should be. This is the same interaction between Jupiter and Io that keeps the moon covered in volcanoes.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/active_watery_world_at_enceladus.html)

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

2005-Aug-01, 04:17 PM
i think this just furthur shows that some of the most interesting and dynamic objects in our solar system, and most certaily also throughout the universe, are moons.. moons of gas giants to be exact.. planets like jupiter and saturn act as mini solar systems, and it is my belief that life is very likely to evolve on these bodies. if not in our solar system then surely the opportunity is there because moons like Io, Titan, Enceladus and the others will occur in great numbers throughout the galaxy.. this opens up the possibility for finding life or life existing elsewhere in great ways.. a star might not appear to be capable of supporting a "goldilocks planet", but could very likely harbour a massive gas giant orbited by a moon with plate techtonics and warm conditions..

to me it seems plausible.. but then again im not an astronomer or physicist or biologist.. im just some dude B)

2005-Aug-01, 06:37 PM
Oh, but Antartica has a hot spot. It's where the the dinosaurs live. I read about it in The Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel Comics) about issue 100 or so. ;)

Enceladus is getting engaged to Saturn. It's giving Saturn a ring! :blink:

2005-Aug-01, 11:37 PM
It seems that Enceladus is more like a Saturnian Europa than another Io; the apparently higher thermal gradient would reflect the otherwise cooler surface.

And, yes g-bomb, Goldilocks seems to have far more beds and porridge to choose from!

suitti, dinosaurs lived on Antarctica about 65-85 million years ago, during the height of the Cretaceous global warming, and Antarctica was relatively ice-free for much of the year (Australia was much closer to Antarctica in those days, still attached you might say - the circumpolar current which keeps Antarctica cold wasn't as effective then); it is thought that the dinosaurs hibernated during the long dark winter night.

There are hot spots in Antarctica today, like Mt Erebus, but no dinosaurs (just bones).

2005-Aug-02, 05:55 PM
cran, I think he was kidding (he read it in a spiderman comic! :lol: )