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Infrared images of Saturn’s moon Enceladus as seen by the Cassini spacecraft, which orbited Saturn, weaving among its moons, from 2004 to 2017. There's an interactive version you can play with, too; click and drag to move it around. Image via LPG. The new peer-reviewed study was published in the October 2020 issue of Icarus. They coat the surface with fresh layers of ice. The new maps were made using Cassini's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS), which took spectra of the moon's surface in visible and infrared light. We came up with a new technique for analyzing the plume composition to estimate the concentration of dissolved CO2 in the ocean. Saturn's icy moon Enceladus has one of the most amazing features in all the solar system: a series of huge geysers erupting from cracks near its south pole, water ice blasting into space due to huge pressures under the surface. While interested in all aspects of space exploration, his primary passion is planetary science. Last January, scientists at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announced that they had developed a new geochemical model of Enceladus that showed the interior of the small moon is more complex than previously thought, including carbon dioxide being controlled by chemical reactions on the seafloor of the ocean. Monster sunspot AR2786 swings into better view. Europa is among the four massive Galilean moons that orbit the gas giant and houses a gigantic ocean of salty water which can be found under its ice shell. In these detailed infrared images of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus, reddish areas indicate fresh ice that has been deposited on the surface. The incredible observations it took are all back on Earth, stored on computers, still ready to be analyzed or re-analyzed, processed by scientists who have new ideas for the old data. The plumes contain water vapor, ice particles, salts, methane, silica, molecular hydrogen and a variety of simple and complex organic molecules. Gabriel Tobie, VIMS scientist with the University of Nantes in France and co-author of the new paper, said in a statement: The infrared shows us that the surface of the south pole is young, which is not a surprise because we knew about the jets that blast icy material there. This was both visible light that can be seen by human eyes as well as infrared light, which tells scientists more about the makeup of the material reflecting it. There's a subsurface ocean there under a thick ice shell, and possibly a rocky core that makes the water salty. Paul Scott Anderson has had a passion for space exploration that began when he was a child when he watched Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. Saturn's moon Enceladus shows fresh ice: More geysers on the tiny iceworld? This enabled modeling to probe deeper interior processes. A closer visible light image of Enceladus’ north pole, taken by Cassini on November 27, 2016. Now scientists have evidence that the moon’s north polar region is also geologically active, although on a smaller scale. Their analysis suggests it is possible for liquid water to reach from the moon's underground sea all the way to its surface. Source: Photometrically-corrected global infrared mosaics of Enceladus: New implications for its spectral diversity and geological activity. No geysers were seen from this region in any of the Cassini passes, so either there aren't any there or they're very weak. Fresh ice almost certainly means water from below the surface has made its way up. However, the brightness seen by the instrument depends on the angle at which it looked at the moon, as well as the angle of the Sun in the sky. Jupiter’s moon Europa is known as a water world in the outer solar system. Image via NASA/ JPL-Caltech. By submitting your information, you agree to our. In 2011, he started writing about space on a freelance basis, and now currently writes for AmericaSpace and Futurism (part of Vocal). As the water vapor re-freezes in Enceladus’ extremely tenuous atmosphere, it forms ice particles that fall back down and coat the moon’s south polar region with fresh ice. Saturn’s moon Enceladus is famous for the huge water-vapor geysers at its south pole, which are thought to originate from a global ocean deep … This was hinted at in earlier work, but shows up clearly here. Image via NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ SwRI. It might have weak geysers, or water being forced up from the moon’s subsurface ocean through cracks in its icy crust. Since this is basically seawater being spewn out into space, this provides important clues as to what conditions are like in the ocean. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/LPG/CNRS/University of Nantes/Space Science Institute. 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