Lakes and Fountains

Cassini‘s latest pass near Titan (moon of Saturn) last Tuesday netted discovery of small lakes near the south pole:

The corollary on Earth would be the Antarctic coast.

A few small dark patches – liquid-hydrocarbon-filled lakes – stand out, at about 70 degrees south, and are highlighted in the insert (lakes are colored blue). Other features in the scene include broad, steep-sided depressions adjoined to sinuous depressions, interpreted to be empty topographic basins or drained lakes fed by channels, and complex mottled terrain, akin to those at similar northern latitudes. Similarities in features between northern and southern hemispheres imply that the climatic conditions are also similar.

Another press release notes a definitive link between the “tiger stripes” of Enceladus with the water jets spewing material into near-Saturn space.

Members of Cassini’s imaging team used two years’ worth of pictures of the geologically active moon to locate the sources of the most prominent jets spouting from the moon’s surface. They then compared these surface source locations to hot spots detected by Cassini on Enceladus in 2005.


The researchers found that all of the jets appear to come from the four prominent tiger stripe fractures in the moon’s active south polar region and, in almost every case, in the hottest areas detected by Cassini’s composite and infrared spectrometer.

I still think astronomers will find cryovolcanism on Dione, Tethys, and possibly Rhea. Probably not as spectacular as what we see on Enceladus, but significant enough to detect and make us wonder.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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