Today, after more than five years of analysis and thought, our findings resulting from a 6.5-year imaging survey of the south polar basin of Enceladus are finally published online in the Astronomical Journal.
We have found in total 101 distinct geysers, one hundred of which erupt from the four, prominent, now famous `tiger stripe’ fractures crossing the region. In comparing our findings with those of other instruments, and with calculations of the magnitude and orientation of tidal forces that flex the surface on a daily basis, we have arrived at a conclusion that strengthens what we had all, little by little, over time, come to believe. In casting your sights on the geysering glory of Enceladus, you are looking at frozen mist that originates deep within the solar system’s most accessible habitable zone. Not bad for a decade’s work, huh?
As we contemplate the approaching end of Cassini’s travels around Saturn, we dream of the day, hopefully not too far in the future, when we can return to Enceladus to answer the question now uppermost in the mind: Could a second genesis of life have taken hold on this small icy moon of a hundred and one fountains?
For we surely know this: If life is indeed there, it is there for the taking.
Visit http://ciclops.org for a new Captain’s Log, and a special event page with graphics and explanatory material.
CICLOPS.org: The Moon of One Hundred and One Geysers