Joule Heating of the South Polar Terrain on Enceladus
When: November 10, 2009 2:30PM PST
The plumes and observed heat flux in the South Polar Terrain of Enceladus remain a considerable mystery. We report that Joule heating in Enceladus – resulting from the interaction of Enceladus with Saturn’s magnetic field – may account for several, to a few tens of megawatts of power across the observed “tiger stripe” fractures. Electric currents passing through subsurface channels of low salinity and just a few kilometres in depth could supply a source of power to the South Polar Terrain, providing a small but previously unaccounted for contribution to the observed heat flux and plume activity.
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