“April 11, 2015. Unusual arc-shaped, reddish streaks cut across the surface of Saturn’s ice-rich moon Tethys in this enhanced-color mosaic. The red streaks are narrow, curved lines on the moon’s surface, only a few miles (or kilometers) wide but several hundred miles (or kilometers) long. The red streaks are among the most unusual color features on Saturn’s moons to be revealed by Cassini’s cameras.
A few of the red arcs can be faintly seen in Cassini imaging observations made earlier in the mission, but the color images for this observation, which were obtained in April 2015, were the first to show large northern areas of Tethys under the illumination and viewing conditions necessary to see the features clearly. As the Saturn system moved into its northern hemisphere summer over the past few years, northern latitudes have become increasingly well illuminated. As a result, the red arc features have become clearly visible for the first time.
The origin of the features and their reddish color is currently a mystery to Cassini scientists. Possibilities being studied include ideas that the reddish material is exposed ice with chemical impurities, or the result of outgassing from inside Tethys. The streaks could also ...