Deciphering the mechanisms of Enceladus’ plumes is one of the most important and challenging tasks for planetary science. Cassini has provided a wealth of data by remote and in-situ data collection, but fundamental details of the vents and their context remain elusive. Three flybys of Enceladus by Cassini in 2008, on August 11 (altitude: 50km), October 9 (30km), and October 31 (200 km) are designed to further our knowledge of Enceladus’ geology and geophysics. Anticipated data include images as good as 7 m/pixel of parts of the geologically active South Polar Terrain (SPT). We targeted six different known eruption sites (Spitale and Porco 2007, Nature 449, 695-697) along Cairo Sulcus, Baghdad Suclus, and Damascus Sulcus, as well as non-active portions of the the "tiger stripes" and bright grooved terrain in between. On each of the three flybys we also plan contiguous ISS broadband multi-spectral mosaics of the entire SPT region so that we can search for volcanically and tectonically driven temporal changes and construct detailed digital terrain maps. Previous images of the tiger stripes and other rift systems on Enceladus resolve geomorphic structures on hundred meter scales or larger. Within those resolution limits, tiger stripes are morphologically distinguished most strongly from comparably sized young looking rifts elsewhere on Enceladus by their prominent upturned flanks, the muted appearance of their surface relief, and their relative absence of distinct cliff faces, probably of solid ice along scarps. The anticipated new high-resolution images will provide critical structural details needed to identify the extent to which unique attributes of tiger stripes are caused by mantling by plume fallout, tectonic deformation, seismic disruption, or perhaps thermal processes. Here, we present a first analysis of the August 11 close flyby images.
AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts #40
- Pub Date:
- September 2008