NASA’s Cassini probe orbited Saturn for 13 years, studying the planet’s atmosphere, its spectacular ring system and its many moons. Combining data from Cassini’s Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer, or VIMS, and the probe’s Imaging Science Subsystem, researchers have put together a new global spectral map of Enceladus, a moon with icy jets spewing into space from a sub-surface ocean. The jets originate in the south polar regions from parallel gashes dubbed “tiger stripes.” The spectral maps show the tiger stripes in detail, along with infrared signs of recent resurfacing in the northern hemisphere. It’s not clear if the resurfacing is from jets like those seen in the southern hemisphere or the result of a more gradual movement of ice seeping up from the hidden ocean through cracks in the crust. Click on the image below for an animated gif showing a 3D version of the map.
A thrilling ride is about to begin for NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Engineers have been pumping up the probe’s orbit around Saturn this year to increase its tilt with respect to the planet’s equator and rings. And on 30 November, following a gravitational nudge from Saturn’s moon Titan, Cassini will enter the first phase of the mission’s dramatic endgame.