Scientists have finally explained the “tiger stripes” that cover the surface of the mysterious moon Enceladus.
Saturn‘s icy moon is one of the most interesting places in the solar system for scientists. It is not only one of the prime candidates for being home to extraterrestrial life – because of the ocean that hides beneath its surface – but also because it remains so mysterious.
One of those mysteries are the stripes that cover its south pole. Now researchers have revealed the physics behind the fissures that open up and spill ocean water out of the icy surface, and create those stripes.
Scientists did not even know that Enceladus had the stripes until recently, when Nasa‘s Cassini mission flew past Saturn and took in Enceladus as it did.
“First seen by the Cassini mission to Saturn, these stripes are like nothing else known in our Solar System,” lead author Hemingway explained. “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.”