Recent data from the Cassini spacecraft have revealed that Enceladus, the 500-km-diameter moon of Saturn, has a southern hemisphere with a distinct arrangement of tectonic features, intense heat flux, and geyser-like plumes. How did the tectonic features form? How is the heat transported from depth? To address these questions, we formulate a simple model that couples the mechanics and thermodynamics of Enceladus and gives a unified explanation of the salient tectonic features, the plumes, and the transport of heat from a source at a depth of tens of kilometers to the surface. Our findings imply that tiny, icy moons can develop complex surficial geomorphologies, high heat fluxes, and geyserlike activity even if they do not have hot, liquid, and/or convecting interiors.
|Number of pages
|Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
|Published - Aug 21 2007
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