Astronomy Picture of the Day

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

November 25, 1995

Saturn's Cleanest Moon: Enceladus
Credit: NASA, JPL, Voyager 2

Explanation: Enceladus orbits Saturn between the smaller Mimas and the larger Tethys. Enceladus is composed mostly of water ice and has the cleanest and purest ice surface in the Solar System. It's surface therefore appears nearly white. The surface also has many unusual groves and relatively few craters, like Jupiter's moon Ganymede. This indicates that the surface is young and/or newly reformed. To explain this, some astronomers speculate that Enceladus is susceptible to some sort of volcanic activity. Enceladus was originally discovered in 1789 by William Herschel.

Tomorrow's picture: A Star Where Photons Orbit

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (GMU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA).
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