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A masterpiece of deep time and wrenching gravity, the tortured surface of Enceladus and its fascinating ongoing geologic activity tell the story of the ancient and present struggles of one tiny world. This is a story that is recounted by imaging scientists in a paper published in the journal Science on March 10, 2006.
The enhanced color view of Enceladus seen here is largely of the southern hemisphere and includes the south polar terrain at the bottom of the image.
Ancient craters remain somewhat pristine in some locales, but have clearly relaxed in others. Northward-trending fractures, likely caused by a change in the moon’s rate of rotation and consequent flattening of the moon’s shape, rip across the southern hemisphere. The south polar terrain is marked by a striking set of "blue" fractures and encircled by a conspicuous and continuous chain of folds and ridges, testament to the forces within Enceladus that have yet to be silenced.
The mosaic was created from 21 false-color frames taken during close approaches to Enceladus on March 9, and July 14, 2005 by the Cassini spacecraft. Images taken using filters sensitive to ultraviolet, visible and infrared light (spanning wavelengths from 338 to 930 nanometers) were combined to create the individual frames.