Cassini Measures Tug of Enceladus

April 26, 2010
Artist's concept of Cassini's flyby of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Image credit: NASA/JPL

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft will be gliding low over Saturn's moon Enceladus for a gravity experiment designed to probe the moon's interior composition.

The , which will take Cassini through the water-rich plume flaring out from Enceladus's south polar region, will occur on April 27 Pacific time and April 28 UTC. At closest approach, Cassini will be flying about 100 kilometers (60 miles) above the moon's surface.

Cassini's scientists plan to use the radio science instrument to measure the of Enceladus against the steady radio link to NASA's Deep Space Network on Earth. Detecting any wiggle will help scientists understand what is under the famous "tiger stripe" fractures that spew and organic particles from the south polar region. Is it an ocean, a pond or a great salt lake?

The experiment will also help scientists find out if the sub-surface south polar region resembles a lava lamp. Scientists have hypothesized that a bubble of warmer ice periodically moves up to the crust and repaves it, explaining the quirky heat behavior and intriguing surface features.

Explore further: Saturn's Dynamic Moon Enceladus Shows More Signs of Activity

Related Stories

Saturn's Dynamic Moon Enceladus Shows More Signs of Activity

December 15, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- The closer scientists look at Saturn's small moon Enceladus, the more they find evidence of an active world. The most recent flybys of Enceladus made by NASA's Cassini spacecraft have provided new signs of ...

Cassini Sends Back Images of Enceladus as Winter Nears

November 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft has sailed seamlessly through the Nov. 21 flyby of Saturn's moon Enceladus and started transmitting uncalibrated temperature data and images of the rippling terrain. These data and ...

As The Crust Turns: Cassini Data Show Enceladus in Motion

January 11, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Blobs of warm ice that periodically rise to the surface and churn the icy crust on Saturn's moon Enceladus explain the quirky heat behavior and intriguing surface of the moon's south polar region, according ...

Cassini Finds Plethora of Plumes, Hotspots at Enceladus

February 23, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Newly released images from last November's swoop over Saturn's icy moon Enceladus by NASA's Cassini spacecraft reveal a forest of new jets spraying from prominent fractures crossing the south polar region ...

Recommended for you

Earth-like planets have Earth-like interiors

February 8, 2016

Every school kid learns the basic structure of the Earth: a thin outer crust, a thick mantle, and a Mars-sized core. But is this structure universal? Will rocky exoplanets orbiting other stars have the same three layers? ...

Star formation in the outskirts of galaxies

February 8, 2016

Star formation environments can be roughly grouped into three types, categorized by the density of their gas (or more precisely, the projected "surface" density of the gas, which is easier to determine than the conventional ...

Inside Rosetta's comet

February 4, 2016

There are no large caverns inside Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. ESA's Rosetta mission has made measurements that clearly demonstrate this, solving a long-standing mystery.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.