Feeds

Enceladus presents a puzzle for Cassini team

Weird stuff afoot around Saturn

New hybrid storage solutions

So, on 14 July this year, Cassini flew within 176km of the surface of the moon, and returned some spectacular images.

The data it gathered during that fly-by revealed that the moon does indeed have an atmosphere, and a very strange one at that. "It is probably around the entire body, but seems to be concentrated at the south pole," Dougherty explains, comparing the plume of material emanating from the moon to a cometary jet.

Temperature data from the surface revealed that the south pole is conspicuously hot, in contrast to the researchers' expectations.

John Spencer from the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado, analysed the data from the Composite IR Spectrometer said that they had expected the hottest temperatures - no more than 80 Kelvin - to be found near the equator, at noon when the sun was shining directly overhead.

What they actually found was a hotspot of around 85 Kelvin over the south pole. Zooming in for a closer look revealed that the temperature directly over one of the crevasses was 91 Kelvin: "Distinctly warmer than its surroundings," Spencer confirms.

Data from the visual IR mapping spectrometer provided more evidence of some kind of internal heat source.

The ice crystals near the tiger stripes are highly crystalline, as compared to the less ordered ice covering the rest of the moon. Bob Brown from the University of Arizona says that this forces the conclusion that the surface in that area is either very hot, or very young, or both.

The researchers also found simple chains of carbon on the surface near the fractures. "There is something very special about the fractures," Brown said.

Cassini has two more flybys of Enceladus scheduled, and the researchers will be keen to get more data from those to help them unravel the mystery. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Boffins: Behold the SILICON CHEAPNESS of our tiny, radio-signal-munching IoT sensor
Single ant-sized Stanford chip combines radio, 'puter, antenna
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Drones swarm over bearded Brit billionaire's island getaway
Just to take lovely pictures though, after Richard Branson invests in 3D Robotics
Chelyabinsk-sized SURPRISE asteroid to skim Earth, satnav birds
Space rock appears out of nowhere, buzzes planet on Sunday
California blue whale numbers soar to historical levels, say boffins
Still far too many of them being struck by US ships, mind
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet
Probe prepares to make first landing on fast-moving rock
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.