Close-Up of Enceladus Northern Hemisphere taken by Cassini

Dec 21, 2010 By Jia-Rui C. Cook
This artist's concept shows NASA's Cassini spacecraft dipping close to the northern hemisphere of Saturn's moon Enceladus.

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft made its close flyby of the northern hemisphere of Saturn's moon Enceladus yesterday, Monday, Dec. 20. The closest approach took place at 5:08 PM PST (8:08 EST) on Dec. 20, or 1:08 AM UTC on Dec. 21. The spacecraft zipped by at an altitude of about 48 kilometers (30 miles) above the icy moon's surface.

Cassini's fields and instruments had priority during this flyby. They tried to characterize the particles that may form a tenuous atmosphere around and see if they may be similar to the faint oxygen- and carbon-dioxide atmosphere detected recently around Rhea, another Saturnian moon. The instruments they were particularly interested in, the Enceladus environment away from the jets emanating from the south polar region.

A goal of the observations was to try to measure the rate of dust coming off the moon from the bombardment of micrometeoroids alone. These measurements will help scientists understand the rate of micrometeoroid bombardment in the Saturn system, which will help them get at the age of Saturn's main rings.

The composite infrared spectrometer and imaging cameras were also active, looking for additional hot spots on the moon and taking pictures of some regions at a higher resolution than is currently available.

This is the 13th flyby of Enceladus in Cassini's mission and takes a similar path to the last Enceladus .

Explore further: Lunar explorers will walk at higher speeds than thought

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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cassini back to normal, ready for Enceladus

Nov 25, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft resumed normal operations today, Nov. 24. All science instruments have been turned back on, the spacecraft is properly configured and Cassini is in good health. Mission ...

Cassini Heading to Titan after Tagging Enceladus

May 20, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft is on its way to a flyby of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, after capturing some stunning images of Enceladus. One view shows the hazy outline of Titan behind Saturn's ...

Cassini Returning Enceladus Gravity Data

May 03, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft successfully completed its 26-hour gravity observation at Saturn's moon Enceladus this week, sending back data scientists will use to understand the moon's interior ...

Recommended for you

Miranda: An icy moon deformed by tidal heating

12 hours ago

Miranda, a small, icy moon of Uranus, is one of the most visually striking and enigmatic bodies in the solar system. Despite its relatively small size, Miranda appears to have experienced an episode of intense ...

The latest observations of interstellar particles

18 hours ago

With all the news about Voyager 1 leaving the heliosphere and entering interstellar space you might think that the probe is the first spacecraft to detect interstellar particles. That isn't entirely true, ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Quantum_Conundrum
5 / 5 (1) Dec 21, 2010
What the heck?

Why is EVERYTHING in astronomy an "artists conception"?

They don't even have real pictures on the nasa site. This is a stupid waste of time.
yyz
not rated yet Dec 21, 2010
"Why is EVERYTHING in astronomy an "artists conception"?

"They don't even have real pictures on the nasa site."

I suspect the lack of new images for this PR was "Cassini's fields and particles instruments had priority during this flyby." and graphs aren't very picturesque.

However, NASA does post new 'raw' images from Cassini here: http://saturn.jpl...=2303048

Here's crescent Enceladus with the Southern jets in action: http://saturn.jpl...D=230436

Another of Enceladus (w-jets) & Dione(?): http://saturn.jpl...D=230461

I know, searching through raw images sucks, but there are sometimes a lot of cool images that never get a PR!