CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Enceladus' Shifting Terrain

Evidence of past tectonic spreading and the subsequent creation of new surface within the south polar province of Saturn's moon, Enceladus, derived from recent Cassini images, is being announced today at a press briefing held at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. (Press release can be found here.) These and other findings being presented at the AGU meeting are lending strong support to the suggestion that a sub-surface, organics-laden, liquid-water-rich environment exists within this small, surprisingly active moon.

Dec 15, 2008: Tiger Stripes...Magnified! - With spectacular success during two close flybys in 2008, the Cassini cameras acquired several very high-resolution images of specific regions on Enceladus' south polar terrain which have been used in constructing this detailed mosaic of the moon's famous tiger stripe fractures.
Dec 15, 2008: Spreading Ridge Transforms On Enceladus - These two side-by-side images compare a characteristic sea-floor spreading feature on Earth, known as a spreading ridge transform, to a very similar looking arrangement of tiger stripe rift segments in the South Polar Terrain region of Enceladus.
Dec 15, 2008: Enceladan Offset Spreading Center - These two side-by-side images compare a “twisted” sea-floor spreading feature on Earth, known as an Offset Spreading Center (OSC), to a very similar looking twisted break, or axial discontinuity, in the Damascus Sulcus tiger stripe on Enceladus.
Dec 15, 2008: Reconstructing the Past on Enceladus - This video demonstrates two examples of observed tectonic spreading along tiger stripes in the South Polar Terrain of Enceladus.
Dec 15, 2008: Ancient Terrain on Enceladus - The figure presented here shows the net result of a possible history of Enceladus' south polar terrain.
Dec 15, 2008: Enceladus' Jets - The most prominent jets of vapor and icy particles emerging from Enceladus' south polar terrain are shown here in graphical form in a movie clip of a `rotating' Enceladus.
Dec 15, 2008: A Tectonic Feast - On Oct. 5, 2008, just after coming within 25 kilometers (15.6 miles) of the surface of Enceladus, NASA’s Cassini captured this stunning mosaic as the spacecraft sped away from this geologically active moon of Saturn.
Dec 15, 2008: The Southern Hemisphere of Enceladus - An updated mosaic of the southern hemisphere of Enceladus has been constructed from the many high-resolution images (< 1 km/pixel) acquired by the Cassini Imaging Science Sub-system (ISS) during four close targeted flybys of Enceladus in March, August, and October 2008.
Dec 15, 2008: The Enceladus Atlas - Presented here is a complete set of cartographic map sheets from a high-resolution Enceladus atlas, a project of the Cassini Imaging Team.
Alliance Member Comments
Red_dragon (Dec 19, 2008 at 5:09 AM):
Awesome stuff, especially "A Tectonic Feast", and "Enceladus' Jets". If it wasn't for Titan, Enceladus would be the hottest place of the Saturnian system. It has nearly everything: a -really possible- subsurface ocean, geological activity, organic molecules in the many cool things in a world so small.