Distribution of icy particles across Enceladus' surface as derived from Cassini-VIMS measurements

R. Jaumann, K. Stephan, G. B. Hansen, R. N. Clark, B. J. Buratti, R. H. Brown, K. H. Baines, S. F. Newman, G. Bellucci, G. Filacchione, A. Coradini, D. P. Cruikshank, C. A. Griffith, C. A. Hibbitts, T. B. McCord, R. M. Nelson, P. D. Nicholson, C. Sotin, R. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


The surface of Enceladus consists almost completely of water ice. As the band depths of water ice absorptions are sensitive to the size of particles, absorptions can be used to map variations of icy particles across the surface. The Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) observed Enceladus with a high spatial resolution during three Cassini flybys in 2005 (orbits EN 003, EN 004 and EN 011). Based on these data we measured the band depths of water ice absorptions at 1.04, 1.25, 1.5, and 2 μm. These band depths were compared to water ice models that represent theoretically calculated reflectance spectra for a range of particle diameters between 2 μm and 1 mm. The agreement between the experimental (VIMS) and model values supports the assumption that pure water ice characterizes the surface of Enceladus and therefore that variations in band depth correspond to variations in water ice particle diameters. Our measurements show that the particle diameter of water ice increases toward younger tectonically altered surface units with the largest particles exposed in relatively "fresh" surface material. The smallest particles were generally found in old densely cratered terrains. The largest particles (∼0.2 mm) are concentrated in the so called "tiger stripes" at the south pole. In general, the particle diameters are strongly correlated with geologic features and surface ages, indicating a stratigraphic evolution of the surface that is caused by cryovolcanic resurfacing and impact gardening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-419
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008


  • Enceladus
  • Saturn
  • satellites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Distribution of icy particles across Enceladus' surface as derived from Cassini-VIMS measurements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this