A fresh look at Enceladus (504 kilometers, 313 miles across) reveals tempting new details about the brightest real estate in the Solar System. This falsely-colored image shows that some of the linear features on Enceladus have a slightly different color from their surroundings. Different colors of ice may be caused by different compositions or different ice crystal sizes, either of which can indicate different formation mechanisms or different ages.
The new view shows some of the smooth plains noted in Voyager and earlier Cassini images. At about the 7 o'clock position are interwoven lineament patterns that are reminiscent of the wispy-terrain features on Dione and Rhea.
Imaging scientists are unsure as to whether these brighter markings are evidence for contamination of the ice in the linear features by some other material. Analysis of high resolution images of Enceladus should also show whether, like the surprising terrain seen on Dione, the "wisps" are curvilinear fractures that are not quite resolved at this scale.
This false color view combines images obtained using filters sensitive to polarized green and infrared light. The images were obtained with the narrow angle camera on February 16, 2005, from distances ranging from 179,727 to 179,601 kilometers (111,677 to 111,599 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 22 degrees. Resolution in the image is about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.