Date: 27 Nov 2005
Cassini imaging scientists used views like this one to help them identify the source locations for individual jets spurting ice particles, water vapor and trace organic compounds from the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus.
Their study -- published in the 11 October 2007, issue of the journal Nature -- identifies eight source locations, all on the prominent tiger stripe fractures, or sulci, in the moon's south polar region.
This false-color view was created by combining three clear filter images taken at nearly the same time as Fountains of Enceladus - Image 2. This image was then specially processed to enhance the individual jets that compose the plume. (Fountains of Enceladus - Image 2 was instead processed to reveal subtleties in the brightness of the overall plume that comprises the jets.) Some artifacts due to the processing are present in the image. The final product was colored blue for dramatic effect.
The images were acquired with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera at a distance of approximately 148,000 km (92,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 161 degrees. Scale in the original images is about 880 m (0.5 mile) per pixel. This view has been magnified by a factor of two from the original images.
What Scientists/Engineers Say About This Image:
"I think that the greatest achievements of the past 50 years in planetary robotic exploration are the discoveries of a wide variety of conditions on the moons in the solar system, particularly that three of the Galilean moons have water layers and the high degree of volcanic activity on the fourth. The Enceladus fountains are related to these."
--Nancy Grace Roman: Chief of NASA's Astronomy and Relativity Programs (Retired)
"Unlike Europa, there is not a doubt that there is water on Enceladus. We know that each day, as the tides go by, the cracks on Enceladus open and shut and water gushes out. This evidence, and the evidence at Europa, supports the theory of possible life habitats in the outer solar system. No one had expected this before the missions to the outer planets."
--Michelle Thaller: Assistant Director of Science for Communications, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Last Update: 21 Mar 2012 (AMB)
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute