August 15, 2008
—The exact location of jets on Saturn
's geologically active moon Enceladus have been found—a discovery scientists are calling a "mother lode."
NASA's Cassini flyby mission released new photos this week of icy jets erupting from the surface.
The green areas (above) are believed to represent deposits of coarser-grained ice and solid boulders. Some of the material is concentrated along valley floors and walls, as well as along the upraised flanks of the "tiger stripe" fractures.
The photo also reveals a sinuous boundary of scarps and ridges that encircles the south polar terrain. Here, the ice may be blocky rubble that has crumbled off of cliff faces because of ongoing seismic activity. (See Saturn photos
The finding "may ultimately reveal just exactly what kind of environment—habitable or not—we have within this tortured little moon," said imaging team leader Carolyn Porco at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
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Image courtesy NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute