Enceladus has cracks in its ice caused by tectonic activity
The Cassini spacecraft has beamed back new, close-up images of the sixth-largest moon of Saturn, Enceladus.
The image features a sinuous crack that snakes from the moon’s south pole like a giant tentacle. This feature is tectonic in nature, created by stresses in Enceladus’ icy shell.
The crack is thought to arise when surface material attempts to push northward, compressing or displacing existing ice along the way. Such features are also believed to be relatively young based on their lack of impact craters — a reminder of how surprisingly geologically active Enceladus is.
Geologists call features like these on Enceladus, which is 313 miles or 504 kilometres in diameter, ‘Y-shaped discontinuities.’
The image was taken on Feb. 15, 2016 from a distance of approximately 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers) from Enceladus.