Pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus shifted 55 degrees in the past


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Data from Cassini now suggests that the moon Enceladus shifted its pole as much as 55 degrees sometime in the past, possibly due to an impact.

Whether it was caused by an impact or some other process, Tajeddine and colleagues think the disruption and creation of the tiger-stripe terrain [at south pole] caused some of Enceladus’ mass to be redistributed, making the moon’s rotation unsteady and wobbly. The rotation would have eventually stabilized, likely taking more than a million years. By the time the rotation settled down, the north-south axis would have reoriented to pass through different points on the surface — a mechanism researchers call “true polar wander.”

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