Warm Fissures in the Ice of Enceladus
Universe Today Download time: Dec 1 2010 9:06 AM ET
As Cassini scientists await the data from today's flyby of Enceladus, images and data from August of this year have provided more insight into the active fissures on the icy moon's south polar region. These geyser-spewing fractures are warmer and more complicated than previously thought.
"The exquisite resolution obtained on one segment of the Damascus fracture — one of the most active regions within the south polar terrain — has revealed a surface temperature reaching a staggering 190 Kelvin, or 120 degrees below zero Fahrenheit," said Cassini imaging team lead Carolyn Porco, in an email announcing the new images. "Far from the fractures, the temperature of the south polar terrain dips as low as 52 Kelvin, or 365 degrees below zero Fahrenheit."
Porco said that what this means is that a phenomenal amount of heat is emerging from the fractures which are "undoubtedly the result of the tidal flexing of Enceladus brought about by its orbital resonance with Dione.…
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