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Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2008 December 22
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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Labtayt Sulci on Saturn's Enceladus
Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA

Explanation: Do some surface features on Enceladus roll like a conveyor belt? A leading interpretation of recent images taken of Saturn's most explosive moon indicate that they do. This form of asymmetric tectonic activity, very unusual on Earth, likely holds clues to the internal structure of Enceladus, which may contain subsurface seas where life might be able to develop. Pictured above is a composite of 28 images taken by the robotic Cassini spacecraft in October just after swooping by the ice-spewing orb. Inspection of these images show clear tectonic displacements where large portions of the surface all appear to move all in one direction. Near the top of the image appears one of the most prominent tectonic divides: Labtayt Sulci, a canyon about one kilometer deep.

Note : APOD Editor to Speak in New York on Jan. 2

Tomorrow's picture: coat hanger


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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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