NASA: an asteroid impact caused the moon Enceladus to rotate on its side

© NASA / JPL-Caltech/Space Science InstituteФотография of Enceladus obtained by the spacecraft Cassini. March 14, 2017NASA: an asteroid impact caused the moon Enceladus to rotate on its side© NASA / JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Manalad, potentially habitable moon of Saturn, has survived a catastrophic collision with some large object in the past, which turned the axis of rotation at 55 degrees, according to the jet propulsion Laboratory of NASA.

«Geologic activity at the South pole of Enceladus that we see with Cassini, could not begin by itself, as a result of certain internal processes in the bowels of the planet. We believe that the «tiger stripes» was originally located closer to the equator, and the disastrous collision of Enceladus and the asteroid could produce them and turn the axis of rotation of the moon,» said Radwan Tajeddin (Radwan Tajeddine) from Cornell University (USA).

In 2005, Cassini discovered Enceladus jets of water ice particles and vapor that are emitted into space from parallel cracks near the South pole — the so-called «tiger stripes». This discovery raised the question of the source of this vapor and ice.

In March 2015, 10 years after the opening of the tiger stripes and geysers on Enceladus, the probe «Cassini», showed that in the bowels of this moon of Saturn has a global ocean of liquid and hot water to find sand particles and frozen drops of water ejected from the South pole of Enceladus, along with the eruptions of the geysers.

It tells Tadjeddin, the existence of such structures at the South pole and the North pole of the planet covered with a thick crust of ice, led scientists to think about how could be these structures, through which the heat today, leaving the interior of Enceladus heated by tidal forces of Saturn.

Trying to figure out how Enceladus began to look like what we see today, scientists have analyzed the topography of its surface, trying to find traces of geological processes which could explain the presence of geysers on its South pole.

Scientists were interested in how different terrain heights in different regions of Enceladus, and which way was «turned» the runway and other structures, resulting from geological processes on the surface of the moon of Saturn.

Form of the planet, as is her various geological «sights», as suggested by Tajuddin and his colleagues were supposed to show whether the bands themselves, thanks to the activity of the interior of Enceladus, or they gave rise to some «external» events – interactions with the giant planets or the asteroids.

The calculations of the authors show that this anomaly can be explained by the fact that the axis of rotation of Enceladus in the past has been rotated by 55 degrees, in a collision with a large asteroid or the debris of a moon of Saturn. When it happened, Enceladus became temporarily unstable and the axis of rotation has started to «wobble», changing the situation for quite some time. These «wobbling» axis has created a special pattern on the surface of Enceladus, similar in shape to a stretched letter S.

In addition, this asteroid, scientists believe that «broke» the ice shell of the planet near the modern South pole gave rise to the geysers and other traces of domestic activity, which could see Cassini in the last phase of its work on the orbit of Saturn. This explains the differences in the appearance of the poles and forces scientists to think about whether Enceladus so interesting for us from the point of view of the origin of life in the past as it is today.