The Moon “Enceladus” of Saturn

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The Moon “Enceladus” of Saturn

Size- Enceladus has a mean diameter of 314 miles, one-seventh the diameter of our Moon. In diameter Enceladus is small enough to fit within the length of the island of Great Britain. It could also fit comfortably within the states of Arizona or Colorado, although as a spherical object its surface area is much greater, just over 310,000 miles2, about 15% larger than Texas. Picture to scale^ Location- Enceladus is one of the major inner satellites of Saturn. It is the fourteenth satellite when ordered by distance from Saturn Composition- Enceladus has a density of 1.61 g/cm³ this density is higher than Saturn’s other mid-sized icy satellites, indicating that Enceladus contains a greater percentage of silicates and iron.

With additional material besides water ice, Enceladus’ interior may have experienced comparatively more heating from the decay of radioactive elements. Appearance- Enceladus reflects almost 100 percent of the sunlight that strikes it. Parts of Enceladus show craters no larger than 35 km in diameter. Other areas show regions with no craters, indicating major resurfacing events in the geologically recent past. There are fissures, plains, corrugated terrain and other crustal deformations. Up close picture of Enceladus’ surface Temperature- Enceladus has a surface temperature of -330 Fahrenheit.

History-Enceladus was discovered by Fredrick William Herschel on August 28, 1789, during the first use of his new 1.2 m telescope, then the largest in the world. Volcanism- In 2005 the Cassini spacecraft performed several close flybys of Enceladus, revealing the moon’s surface and environment in greater detail. In particular, the probe discovered a water-rich plume venting from the moon’s South Polar Region. This discovery, along with the presence of escaping internal heat and very few (if any) impact craters in the South Polar Region, shows that Enceladus is geologically active today. Another evidence of tectonics on Enceladus is grooved terrain, consisting of lanes of curvilinear grooves and ridges. Water/Ice- Due to the presents of active geological activity, Enceladus would be one of the more likely moons to support life.

We think that Enceladus has an underground ocean, heated by a core. Relationship to other objects-The E Ring is the widest and outermost ring of Saturn. The source of the E Ring is the plume in the south polar region of Enceladus. While a majority of particles fall back to the surface, some of them escape Enceladus’ gravity and enter orbit around Saturn, since Enceladus’ escape velocity is only 866 km/h. Points of Interest (Bio-astronomy??)- In May 2011 NASA scientists at an Enceladus Focus Group Conference reported that Enceladus “is emerging as the most habitable spot beyond Earth in the Solar System for life as we know it”. Picture taken on Feb. 5, 2006, using the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera at a distance of 4.1 million kilometers (2.5 million miles) from Enceladus and 5.3 million kilometers (3.3 miles) from Titan. Enceladus is transiting Titan. Surface.

Plumes of Enceladus feeding into the E Ring. View from Cassini.

Citations: “Enceladus: Overview.” N.p.. Web. 31 Oct 2012. . N.p.. Web. 31 Oct 2012. <>. Arnett, Bill. N.p., 30 2007. Web. 31 Oct 2012. <>.


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