Jets of water vapor and ice spray from cracks in the surface of Enceladus
, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn. Along with water and ice particles, these fractures--known as tiger stripes--also spit out organic compounds like methane. This image consists of a compilation of two photos taken from about 9,000 miles from Enceladus' surface when Cassini journeyed past that moon on November 2009.
Scientists are studying the activity of the jets over time--of the 30 jets in this image, 20 had never before been seen--and trying to figure out whether liquid water reservoirs
are hidden below Enceladus' rocky surface. Liquid water would increase the chance that life has taken hold on the small mooon.
Enceladus was named for a mythological giant, but with a diameter measuring just over 300 miles, the moon is a mere one-tenth of the size of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.