Tech & Science Saturn’s ice moon Enceladus has icy ‘tiger stripes,’ and scientists just figured out why
Water ice on the Moon may be billions of years old
There's ice on the Moon. Various research efforts have shown this to be the case, and scientists are doing their best to find out exactly how much ice is accessible on the lunar surface. World Space Week 2019 is celebrated from Oct. 4-10 annually and this year’s theme is “The Moon: Gateway to the Stars.” We look at some stunning images of the moon around the globe.
Of all the places in our solar system where life might be hiding out, Saturn’s frosty moon Enceladus might be the most tantalizing. The Moon is a vast ocean covered by an icy shell, and NASA’s Cassini mission offered intriguing glimpses of huge liquid water geysers erupting into space through cracks in the thick ice.
Enceladus is instantly recognizable thanks to its bold blue “tiger stripes,” which run parallel to each other across the moon’s south pole. Researchers have long wondered why this pattern emerged, and after carefully considering the possibilities and looking at all the available data, they think they’ve come up with the answer.
25 Words You Didn't Know Were in the Dictionary
With perhaps three-quarters of a million words in the English language, it's fairly reasonable to suggest that you probably won't get around to learning them all, and that there'll be plenty of words hiding away in the dictionary that you’ll never need (or want) to know.
In a new study published in Nature Astronomy, a team of researchers at Carnegie Science offers their best guesses as to how the stripes formed, and why they persist over time.
“First seen by the Cassini mission to Saturn, these stripes are like nothing else known in our Solar System,” Doug Hemingway, who led the research, explains. “They are parallel and evenly spaced, about 130 kilometers long and 35 kilometers apart. What makes them especially interesting is that they are continually erupting with water ice, even as we speak. No other icy planets or moons have anything quite like them.”
Based on what we know about Enceladus, it’s believed that the ice near the poles of the moon is thinner than elsewhere on the frosty orb. As temperatures on the moon change gradually over time, lower temperatures lead to the freezing of the ocean below the surface. Water expands when it freezes, placing greater stress on the outer layer of ice, and eventually that stress causes the ice to fracture.
As for why the cracks appear on the south pole of the moon, the researchers say that it may just be random chance. The relief of the pressure from below could have caused cracks to form at either of the poles, and the fact that the cracks appear at the south pole is “a bit of a coin toss.”
Sign up for BGR's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
When did the universe 'wake up'? .
It was a big moment for our cosmos when the first stars awoke, but it's an elusive one for scientists. In new research, however, a team of astronomers has identified some of the oldest galaxies ever seen. These objects were already fully formed when the universe was just 680 million years old, according to the scientists, who also found evidence that these galaxies were flooding their surroundings with extreme ultraviolet radiation.That flood formed gigantic bubbles, where the neutral gas became energized and ionized, offering astronomers the first direct image of a major transformational epoch in our universe.
NASA Just Revealed There Could Be Life On Saturn's Moon, Enceladus
Since NASA's Cassini spacecraft detected gaseous hydrogen spouting from Saturn's Enceladus, scientists have hypothesized that the moon may have ...
Saturn's Moon Enceladus Has Underground Ocean
An ocean of liquid water, potentially capable of sustaining simple life, is sloshing around inside Saturn's ice-encrusted moon Enceladus. US and Italian scientists ...