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What Are These ‘Unusual’ Red Streaks on Saturn’s Moon?

posted: 07/30/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Streaks on Tethys
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has returned images of several inexplicable red streaks that are painted across Saturn's icy moon Tethys. Astronomers have no hard leads on what may have caused the streaks, which are described as being "among the most unusual color features on Saturn's moons".

Some have speculated that the streaks could be the result of ice with chemical impurities; they could also be indicative of smaller features (such as fractures) that are not more clearly visible from so far away.

"The red arcs must be geologically young because they cut across older features like impact craters, but we don't know their age in years." said Cassini imaging specialist Paul Helfenstein. "If the stain is only a thin, colored veneer on the icy soil, exposure to the space environment at Tethys' surface might erase them on relatively short time scales."

The image above is a composite of several images taken by clear, green, infrared and ultraviolet spectral filters that enhance the color of the streaks, which are not as visible to the human eye.

Cassini will follow up with higher resolution images of the streaks later this year.

Click here for more information from NASA

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