This graphic represents a possible model for mechanisms that could generate the water vapor and tiny ice particles detected by Cassini over the southern polar terrain on Enceladus. This model shows sublimation of warmed surface ice. Sublimation is to cause to change directly from a solid to a gas, or from a gas to a solid, without becoming a liquid.
For other models being considered by scientists, see also PIA07726 and PIA07727.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. For additional images visit the Cassini imaging team homepage http://ciclops.org.