CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Enceladan Tectonics

This mosaic shows extraordinary details of tectonic deformation in the fractured south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus, where jets of water ice spray outward to form Saturn's E ring. The images were captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

This image and others like it from the close flyby of Enceladus on Nov. 21, 2009, are among the best visible light images Cassini will capture of the region around the "tiger stripes," the fissures that spray icy particles, water vapor and organic compounds, before the moon's south polar region enters winter darkness for the coming years. Cassini scientists will use these new images to study geological activity associated with the tiger stripes and their effects on the surrounding terrain. See PIA11687 and PIA11688 to learn more.

In this view, three prominent tiger stripe fractures extend from the bottom center of the mosaic upwards toward the center. From left to right, they are Alexandria Sulcus, Cairo Sulcus, and Baghdad Sulcus. Across the middle of the image, near the northern end of the tiger stripes, a conspicuous pattern of parallel 90-degree bends has formed. The bends curve along similar paths, that is, starting in a direction parallel to tiger stripes at one end and turning perpendicular at the other. Changes in the nature of regional tectonic stresses presumably cause the bends and narrow ridges to form perpendicular to tiger stripe direction. Analyzing systematic tectonic patterns like these throughout the south polar region may lead to an understanding of the forces and mechanism that drive Enceladus' activity. See PIA11114 and PIA08386 to learn more.

This mosaic was created from six images that are also part of a larger mosaic (see PIA11685). The images were re-projected into orthographic map projection. This view looks toward south polar terrain of Enceladus (504 kilometers, 313 miles across). This view is centered on terrain at 73 degrees south latitude, 54 degrees west longitude.

The images were obtained in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Nov. 21, 2009. The view was obtained at distances of approximately 3,200 kilometers (2,000 miles) to 7,000 kilometers (4,300 miles). Image scale is about 18 meters (58 feet) per pixel.

The Cassini Equinox 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 Equinox Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: February 23, 2010 (PIA 11686)
Image/Caption Information
  Enceladan Tectonics
PIA 11686

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Alliance Member Comments
enceladus5 (Mar 2, 2010 at 1:57 PM):
What a fsacinating and surprising moon Enceladus is turning out to be. The detail is remarkable. I sure hope someday humans are lucky enough to go to Saturn personally andsee these wonderful sights for themselves.
raketenflugplatz (Mar 2, 2010 at 8:05 AM):
it's really incredible. what a fantastic landscapes. we're struggling here on the Earth with our everyday's dutys, but above our heads the Universe is waiting for us... and the question is: when we'll be ready for this small leap?

you're doing fantastic work. huge respect!!! it's much better that what we can see it cable tv :) everyday I'm visiting CICLOPS site and showing my 7-year odl son this astonishing pictures. maybe during his life people will escape Earth's gravity :)

greetings from Warsaw!!
Red_dragon (Mar 2, 2010 at 6:23 AM):
"Cold Tectonics". Superb work, as usual.
Dragon_of_Luck_Mah_Jonng1971 (Feb 28, 2010 at 7:10 PM):
The images and mosaics of Enceladus of february 23rd are a lot and there are very interesting landforms.
Dragon_of_Luck_Mah_Jonng1971 (Feb 28, 2010 at 6:58 PM):
This one and "New to Old on Enceladus" are remarkable mosaics !