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This high-resolution image from Cassini shows a 70 kilometer x 84 kilometer (43 mile x 52 mile) region of "smooth plains" terrain on Enceladus' surface located slightly north of the equator on the moon's Saturn-facing hemisphere.
The image shows a variety of tectonic features that attest to Enceladus' dynamic geological history. At the top of the image is a relatively fresh-looking crevasse system with individual fractures that are over a kilometer wide. The crevasse system crosscuts a complex northeast-to-southwest-trending system of older faults. A 12 kilometer (7 mile) -wide band of crudely aligned, chevron-shaped features runs down the center of the image.
Among the most intriguing features in this view are a series of dark, small, 125 to 750 meter (400 to 2,500 feet) diameter spots. The dark spots often seem to be aligned in chains parallel to narrow fractures. The contrast of the dark features with the surrounding bright terrain suggests that they may be compositionally distinct, but their origin is a new Enceladus mystery.
The orientation of the image is such that north is approximately 30 degrees clockwise from the bottom of the frame. Enceladus is 504 kilometers, 313 miles in diameter.
The image was taken in visible light with the narrow angle camera on February 17, 2005, from a distance of 21,208 kilometers (13,178 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 27 degrees. Pixel scale in the image is 125 meters (410 feet) per pixel. The image has been contrast-enhanced to aid visibility.
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.