More Watery Eruptions, and More Heat, on Saturn's Moon Enceladus

By Andrew Moseman | February 24, 2010 5:24 pm

EnceladusFractureWater, water everywhere. Another pass of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, made by the Cassini spacecraft last November, shows at least 30 geysers blasting water from the moon’s south pole. That’s 20 more than were previously known at that location. In addition, the most detailed infrared map of one of the south pole’s fissures, where jets emanate, indicates that the surface temperature there might be as high as 200 kelvins (-73º Celsius), or about 20 kelvins warmer than previously estimated [Discovery News]. Cassini drew to within about 1,000 miles of Enceladus to measure this geological feature, which is a fracture–one of the moon’s so-called “tiger stripes”–about a quarter-mile deep officially called Baghdad Sulcus.

While 200 kelvins is still a frigid temperature for we humans, research team member John Spencer said it could make a big difference on Enceladus. “The huge amount of heat pouring out of the tiger stripe fractures may be enough to melt the ice underground,” Spencer said. ”Results like this make Enceladus one of the most exciting places we’ve found in the solar system” [Wired.com].

For more info (and some spectacular photos), check out DISCOVER blogger Phil Plait’s post at Bad Astronomy. And see 80beats’ previous coverage of Enceladus below:

Bad Astronomy: Enceladus Is Erupting!
80beats: Cassini Probe Finds “Ingredients For Life” on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus
80beats: Antifreeze Might Allow For Oceans—And Life—On Enceladus
80beats: Does Enceladus, Saturn’s Geyser-Spouting Moon, Have Liquid Oceans?
80beats: New Evidence of Hospitable Conditions for Life on Saturn’s Moons
80beats: Geysers From Saturn’s Moon May Indicate Liquid Lakes, and a Chance for Life
80beats: Cassini Spacecraft Snaps Pictures of Saturn’s Geyser-Spouting Moon

Image: NASA/JPL/GSFC/SWRI/SSI

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space
  • Gertrude Johnsin

    Weird but cool! Nice!

  • Christina Viering

    It doesn’t look like water.

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