The ‘Thrusters’ on Saturn’s Moon, Enceladus
Enceladus is one of the moons of Saturn, bearing the Greek Mythology name of one of the Giants, child of Earth and Uranus, with serpent like lower part of the body. Enceladus is connected to earthquakes and according to the mythology he was buried under Mount Etna in Italy.
The moon was first observed in 1789 by a British astronomer and because of its volcanic behaviour it was given the name of Enceladus. It a sphere of about 500 km in size and the surface is icy. It was in 1980 that Voygaer passed at a distance of 200,000 km from Enceladus and we got the first low quality pictures of it. There is a possibility that Enceladus could have liquid water, as many scientists suggest.
The Cassini spacecraft has done an incredible job of getting high quality pictures since 2005, with multiple fly-bys close to the moon and more to come until 2017. In recent images taken by Cassin, Enceladus looks as if it has rockets to thrust it. This is the effect of icy salty water coming out from the south pole of the Moon, an effect that has been studied and was first observed in 2005.
The liquid water is expelled from the surface of the planet due to high pressure created by the volcanic activity of the planet. The jet streams that have been observed so far are 98 in number.
The most intriguing part of Enceladus is not the jet streams, but the possibility to have fluid water on the surface and a heat source (volcanic activity). Because then there is a large possibility that it also has life and maybe is a habitable environment (not for humans of course …).
By John Black