The Cassini spacecraft acquired this view 15 hours before closest approach to Enceladus as the spacecraft dove toward its thrilling March 2008 encounter with the ice-particle-spewing moon. The cratered terrain of the north is seen at top, and is even dimly visible on the moon's night side, which is lit by reflected sunlight coming from Saturn.
North on Enceladus (505 kilometers, or 314 miles across) is up and rotated 22 degrees to the left. The north pole is tilted slightly toward Cassini.
The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 12, 2008. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 612,000 kilometers (380,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 114 degrees. Image scale is 4 kilometers (2 miles) per pixel.
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, D.C. 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.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute