Enceladus


Enceladus
/en sel"euh deuhs/, n.
1. Class. Myth. a giant with a hundred arms buried under Mount Etna, in Sicily.
2. Astron. a natural satellite of the planet Saturn.

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 second nearest of the major regular moons of Saturn and the brightest of all its moons. It was discovered in 1789 by the English astronomer William Herschel (Herschel, Sir William) and named for one of the giants (Gigantes) of Greek mythology.

      Enceladus measures about 500 km (310 miles) in diameter and orbits Saturn in a prograde, nearly circular path at a mean distance of 238,020 km (147,899 miles). Its average density is only 30 percent greater than that of water, which indicates that it is at least half water ice. Its surface, which reflects essentially all of the light that strikes it (compared with about 7 percent for Earth's Moon), is basically smooth but includes cratered and grooved plains.

      Little was known about Enceladus until the flyby of the U.S. spacecraft Voyager 2 in 1981. Approaching as close as 87,140 km (54,146 miles), the spacecraft returned images revealing that Enceladus is complex geologically, its surface having undergone five distinct evolutionary periods. Additional observations by the Cassini spacecraft, which began a series of close flybys of Enceladus (some less than 200 km [125 miles] away) in 2005, confirmed that portions of the moon are geologically active today, with extremely high heat flow and associated eruptions of water vapour and ice from geysers (a form of ice volcanism, or cryovolcanism) especially apparent in its south polar region. Several craterless areas may be only 100 million years old, suggesting that parts of the surface melted and refroze in the recent geologic past and that Enceladus may have multiple active areas. Enceladus's current activity is responsible for Saturn's E ring, a tenuous ring of micrometre-sized particles of water ice condensed from vapour ejected by the geysers. The particles are densest near Enceladus's orbit and are analogous to the cloud of orbiting particles ejected from Jupiter's volcanically active moon Io. The orbital lifetimes of the E ring particles are very short, perhaps only 10,000 years, but they are resupplied continually by cryovolcanic eruptions.

      Enceladus's 33-hour trip around Saturn is one-half that of the more distant moon Dione; the two bodies are thus associated in an orbital resonance. Under certain circumstances, such a resonance can lead to large amounts of tidal heating of the inner of the involved moons (see Saturn: Orbital and rotational dynamics (Saturn)), but it remains to be shown in detailed calculations how this mechanism could generate enough heating to account for continuing activity within Enceladus.

William B. Hubbard
 

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Enceladus — can refer to: *Enceladus (mythology), one of the Gigantes (giants) in Greek mythology *Enceladus (moon), a natural satellite of Saturn …   Wikipedia

  • Enceladus — bezeichnet: einen Giganten aus der griechischen Mythologie in lateinischer Namensform, siehe Enkelados; einen Mond des Planeten Saturn, siehe Enceladus (Mond). eine Gattung der Laufkäfer, siehe Enceladus (Gattung) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • ENCELADUS — Titanis ac Terrae fil. Gigantum ommum, qui adversus Iovem coniuravêrunt, longe maximus, quem Iuppiter fulmine ictum Aetnae monti supposuit. Virg. Aen. l. 3. v. 578. Fama est, Euceladi semustum fulmine corpus Urgeri mole hac, ingentemque insuper… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Encelădus — Encelădus, 1) (Myth.), s. Enkelados; 2) (E. Bon.), Untergattung der Laufkäfer (Abtheilung Bipartiti); Art: E. gigas, aus Westafrika …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Encelădus — (Enkelados), der zweite Saturnmond; s. auch Giganten …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Enceladus — Enceladus, myth., der Erde u. des Tartarus Sohn, einer der mit den Göttern kämpfenden Giganten, unter der Insel Sicilien begraben …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Enceladus —   [nach Enkelados, einem Giganten der griechischen Sage], einer der Monde des Planeten Saturn …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Enceladus — [en sel′ə dəs] n. [L < Gr Enkelados] a smooth satellite of Saturn having more reflective brightness than any other celestial body in the solar system …   English World dictionary

  • Enceladus — Encelade (lune) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Encelade. Encelade …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Enceladus — noun a) A giant in Greek mythology. b) A moon of Saturn …   Wiktionary


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