Feeds

Cassini team ties icy jets to tiger stripes

It could only happen on Enceladus

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The tiger stripes at the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus are indeed responsible for the powerful jets emerging from the body.

Enceladus' jets. Credit: NASA

Enceladus' jets. Credit: NASA

The imaging team on the Cassini mission to the Saturn system have spent two years poring over pictures of Enceladus, trying to determine the source of the icy jets once and for all.

Now, according to a paper published in Nature, they have tied the jets to the moon's south pole.

The findings are pleasing, the scientists say, but not surprising.

Speaking at the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences meeting, Nicholas Schneider, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado, said: "This confirms that these jets really are coming from these geologically fascinating grooves, which really are the warmest places."

In 2005, Cassini identified hot spots on the moon, and now the team has confirmed that the hot spots correspond with the tiger stripes, four major geological faults near the moon's southern pole.

The team confirmed the link between the two phenomena by comparing the locations of relatively warm jets emerging from the moon, the tiger stripes and hot spots on the surface on the moon. Virtually every time, the location of the three matched.

"This is the first time the visible jets have been tied directly to the tiger stripes," said Joseph Spitale, an imaging team associate and lead author of the Nature paper. Spitale works with Cassini imaging team leader and co-author Carolyn Porco at the Space Science Institute.

All the jets fell on a fracture, but not necessarily on a hot spot. These rare mismatches suggest there are other hot spots still to be discovered, Spitale says.

And there are still plenty of other mysteries to be solved.

"These are findings with tremendously exciting implications and to say that I am eager to get to the bottom of it would be a cosmic understatement," Porco said in a statement.

"Do the jets derive from near-surface liquid water or not? And if not, then how far down is the liquid water that we all suspect resides within this moon? Personally, I'd like to know the answer yesterday." ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.