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EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY EQUINOX GRAPHICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of a flight past Saturn's moon Enceladus. Enceladus is an icy moon that orbits just 180,000 kilometres above the cloudtops of Saturn (238,000km from the centre of the planet). It is an active moon, and geysers of water ice have been observed erupting on its surface. Material ejected from the moon forms Saturn's diffuse E ring, within which Enceladus orbits. The geological activity is powered by its proximity to Saturn and its 2:1 orbital resonance with the further out moon Dione (meaning it completes two orbits for Dione's one). This combination raises powerful tides on the rock and ice of Enceladus, which heat the interior through friction, powering the eruptions. Continuous eruptions have given the moon a very young surface of ice, which makes it the most reflective body in the Solar System, reflecting some 99% of the light falling on it. The presence of water has led scientists to believe that Enceladus may be one of the best candidates for finding life in the Solar System.
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