Gravitational tide the secret of Saturn's weird moon
PARIS, France (AFP) - Enceladus, a white moon of Saturn with ice-spewing volcanoes, owes its strangeness to tides of gravitational forces exerted by its mother, a study said on Wednesday.
Discovered in 1789 by William Herschel, Enceladus measures only 504km across yet is one of the great oddities of the Solar System.
Its surface is a gorgeous white shell of ice, rather than asteroid-pocked rock and dust, and the surface is pristine except for a network of fractures near its south pole.
These cracks - dubbed "tiger stripes" - emit fountains of water vapour that instantly turn into icy grains on contact with the chill vacuum of space.