Feeds

Enceladus presents a puzzle for Cassini team

Weird stuff afoot around Saturn

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?