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Association of the jets of Enceladus with the warmest regions on its south-polar fractures

Association of the jets of Enceladus with the warmest regions on its south-polar fractures

Publication date: 12 October 2007

Authors: Spitale, J.N. et al.

Journal: Nature
Volume: 449
Issue: 7163
Page: 695-697
Year: 2007

Copyright: Nature Publishing Group

Jets of material have been seen emanating from the south-polar terrain of Saturn's satellite Enceladus. Observations have shown that this region is anomalously warm, with the hottest measured temperatures coinciding with the four 'tiger stripe' fractures, named Alexandria, Cairo, Baghdad and Damascus, that straddle the region. Here we use Cassini images taken from a variety of viewing directions over two years to triangulate the source locations for the most prominent jets, and compare these with the infrared hotspot locations and the predictions from a recent model of tidally induced shear heating within the fractures. We find that the jets emanate from the four tiger stripes, with the strongest sources on Baghdad and Damascus. All the jets from each fracture seem to lie in the same nearly vertical plane. There is a strong spatial coincidence between our geographical sources and the locations of increased temperature revealed by the infrared experiment. Comparison with the shear heating model shows broad agreement; the exception is the prediction that Baghdad is the least active lineament, whereas we find it to be the most active. We predict that several new hotspots remain to be discovered by future thermal observations.

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