Tuesday, July 26, 2005

New Enceladus Image: Boulder Strewn Surface

CICLOPS has released several processed views using the highest resolution images taken thus far of Saturn's moon Enceladus. In the combined view above, the image at lower left is an expanded view of the wide-angle image and the inset image is the narrow angle view taken at the same time. Both images were taken when Cassini was at an altitude of 208 km above Enceladus' icy surface, but because Cassini was looking at the limb at the time, the actual distance to this area on the surface was 319 km. Thus the resolution of the narrow angle view was 3.7 m/pixel while the wide angle view has a resolution of 37 m/pixel.

The images themselves show a tectonically tortured region near the south pole of Enceladus. The lack of craters here, and the paucity of craters elsewhere in the region suggests that this area is geolgically young. In the narrow angle view, numerous boulders, 10-100 meters across, can be seen. How such boulders were produced in a relatively crater-free region will be a focus for study. The fact they have not been eroded by space weathering is another indication that this region is very young.


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