CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Wandering Poles of Enceladus
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Working with image data from NASA's Cassini mission, researchers have found evidence that Saturn's moon Enceladus may have tipped over, reorienting itself so that terrain closer to its original equator was relocated to the poles. This phenomenon is known as true polar wander.

Researchers discovered a chain of basins across the surface of Enceladus along with a pair of depressions that line up with an equator and poles, respectively, if the moon's axis of rotation was reoriented by about 55 degrees of latitude.

These maps look toward the icy moon's southern hemisphere, with colors representing highs and lows. Purple represents the lowest elevations, while red represents the highest.

The map at left shows the surface of Enceladus in its possible ancient orientation, millions of years ago. The chain of basins representing topographic lows can be seen in blue and purple, running along the equator, with an additional low region around the original south pole. The region that encloses the moon's currently active south polar terrain, with its long, linear "tiger stripe" fractures, would have been at middle latitudes just south of the equator. The map at right shows the current orientation of Enceladus.

The Cassini Solstice Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. 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.

For more information about the Cassini Solstice Mission visit http://ciclops.org, http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Cornell University
Released: May 30, 2017 (PIA 21612)
Image/Caption Information
  Wandering Poles of Enceladus
PIA 21612

Avg Rating: 9.75/10

Annotated Full Size 2400x1200:
JPEG 1.5 MB
PNG 11.5 MB
TIFF 12.7 MB

 

Wandering Poles of Enceladus
PIA 21612

Avg Rating: 10/10

Unannotated Full Size 2400x1200:
JPEG 1.5 MB
PNG 11.5 MB
TIFF 12.7 MB


Alliance Member Comments
XRumerTest (Jun 4, 2017 at 12:25 PM):
Hello. And Bye.
NeKto (May 30, 2017 at 6:51 PM):
i would presume the ice mantle migrated over the ocean. i would suspect the core might have moved very little.

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