Location: Orbit of planet Saturn
Mean orbital distance: 237,948 km
Orbital period: 1.370 days (32.88 hours)
Mean Radius: 252.1 km
Sixth largest moon of the planet Saturn. This moon has the most reflective surface of any body in the Solar System. Enceladus is a major source of ionized material filling the huge magnetic bubble around Saturn. Water vapor sprays out from long cracks in the south polar region known as “tiger stripes.” The ejected matter forms a plume of icy grains and neutral gas that is mainly water vapor. This plume is converted into charged particles interacting with the plasma that fills Saturn’s magnetosphere. Positively charged ions become the small, “light” plasma species and the negatively charged grains become the “heavy” component. This is just the opposite of “normal” plasmas, where the negative electrons are thousands of times lighter than the positive ions.
The plume is the result of an intense electrical discharge occurring as a result of Enceladus’ interaction with Saturn’s magnetic field. This powerful arcing current is carving out the “tiger stripes” of the south polar region while ejecting ionized debris and plasma into space. This electromagnetic action could account for the reversal of charged particle species in the plasma plume.