Photometric and spectral analysis of the distribution of crystalline and amorphous ices on Enceladus as seen by Cassini
Photometric and spectral analysis of data from the Cassini Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) has yielded significant results regarding the properties and composition of the surface of Saturn's satellite Enceladus. We have obtained spectral cubes of this satellite, containing both spatial and spectral information, with a wavelength distribution in the infrared far more extensive than from any previous observations and at much higher spatial resolution. Using a composite mosaic of the satellite, we map the distribution of crystalline and amorphous ices on the surface of Enceladus according to a "crystallinity factor" and also the depth of the temperature- and structure-dependent 1.65 micron water-ice band. These maps show the surface of Enceladus to be mostly crystalline, with a higher degree of crystallinity at the "tiger-stripe" cracks and a larger amorphous signature between these stripes. These results suggest recent geological activity at the "tiger stripe" cracks and an intriguing atmospheric environment over the south pole where amorphous ice is produced either through intense radiative bombardment, flash-freezing of cryovolcanic liquid, or rapid condensation of water vapor particles on icy microspherules or on the surface of Enceladus.