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Slashed across the south pole of Saturn's sixth-largest moon is a series of 'tiger stripes' that have baffled scientists for over 15 years.
Researchers have developed a new model to investigate the physical forces acting on Enceladus that allow the fissures to form and remain in place.
Team - Reason - Slashes - Pole - Area
The team found the reason the slashes are concentrated on the south pole is simply because this area happened to split open first.
It was also discovered that fissures stay open and erupting as a result of the tidal effects of Saturn's gravity.
Moon - Deformation - Wound - Cracks - Water
The moon's deformation acts to keep the wound from healing—repeatedly widening and narrowing the cracks and flushing water in and out of them—preventing the ice from closing up again.
Doug Hemingway, lead author and researcher at Carnegie Science, said: 'First seen by the Cassini mission to Saturn, these stripes are like nothing else known in our Solar System.
Kilometers - Miles - Kilometers - Miles
They are parallel and evenly spaced, about 130 kilometers [80 miles] long and 35 kilometers [21 miles] 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.'
Team - Stripes - Moon - Pole - Cracks
The team was particularly interesting in understanding why the stripes were concentrated only on the moon's south pole and how the cracks became so evenly spaced.
It was determined that the south pole happened to split open first, is how it got its stripes.
Enceladus - Heating - Eccentricity - Orbit
Enceladus experiences internal heating due to the eccentricity of its orbit.
The moon is slightly deformed due to its constant shift in distance to Saturn, which also keeps it from completely freezing.
Formation - Poles - Model - Result - Deformation
The formation on the poles, according to the model, is a result of the gravitationally induced deformation, so the ice sheet it thinnest in these areas.
Because water expands as it freezes, as the icy crust thickens from below, the pressure in...
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