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Confirmed: Icy Tendrils Around Saturn Originate on Moon’s Surface

posted: 04/15/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Simulations of the Tendrils
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L-R: A Cassini photograph and computer simulation of icy tendrils in orbit around Saturn.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Astronomers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have nailed down a definitive explanation for the icy tendrils spotted near Saturn's moon Enceladus. Images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have confirmed that the tendrils originated from geysers erupting on the moon's surface.

Essentially frozen jets of water, the tendrils extend tens of thousands of miles away from the moon. Researchers zeroed in on the particles that comprise the tendrils and concluded that different particles form differently shaped tendrils.

"We've been able to show that each unique tendril structure can be reproduced by particular sets of geysers on the moon's surface," noted Cassini imaging team associate Colin Mitchell.

Researchers noted that certain features of the tendrils change over time, likely due to gravitational forces resulting from Enceladus' orbit around Saturn.

Click here for the full story from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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