National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
News & Events
Saturn's Geyser Moon Enceladus Shows off for NASA's Cassini
Saturn's Geyser Moon Enceladus Shows off for NASA's Cassini
3 Oct 2011
(Source: NASA/JPL)

Enceladus Jets
Cassini sees jets of water vapor and ice from Enceladus. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft successfully completed its Oct. 1 flyby of Saturn's moon Enceladus and its jets of water vapor and ice. At its closest approach, the spacecraft flew approximately 62 miles (100 kilometers) above the moon's surface. The close approach was designed to give some of Cassini's instruments, including the ion and neutral mass spectrometer, the chance to "taste" the jets themselves.

Enceladus
During Cassini's Oct. 1, 2011 flyby, Saturn's moon Enceladus was in full view. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

At a higher vantage point during the encounter, Cassini's high-resolution camera captured pictures of the jets emanating from the moon's south polar region. The latest raw images of Enceladus are online at: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/.

The images of the surface include previously seen leading-hemisphere terrain. However, during this encounter, multi-spectral imaging of these terrains extended farther into the ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum than had previously been achieved at this resolution. By looking at the surface at ultraviolet wavelengths, scientists can better detect the difference between surface materials and shadows than they can at visible wavelengths, where icy materials are highly reflective and shadows are washed out. With both ultraviolet and visible images of the same terrain available to them, scientists will better understand how the surface coverage of icy particles coming from the vents and plumes changes with terrain type and age.

Cassini's next pass of this fascinating moon will be Oct. 19, when the spacecraft flies by at an altitude of approximately 765 miles (1231 kilometers).

Enceladus Up-Close
NASA's Cassini imaged Enceladus' surface during its Oct. 1, 2011 flyby. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. The Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer science team is based at the Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov.


Gay Hill 818-354-0344
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif
Gay.y.hill@jpl.nasa.gov

2011-309

News Archive Search  Go!
Show  results per page
 
 
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 3 Oct 2011