Icy Moons through Cassini's Eyes

March 29, 2012 By Jia-Rui C. Cook
This raw image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft was taken on March 27, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Saturn's moon Enceladus at approximately 144,281 miles (232,197 kilometers) away. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

(PhysOrg.com) -- These raw, unprocessed images of Saturn's moons Enceladus, Janus and Dione were taken on March 27 and 28, 2012, by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

Cassini passed Enceladus first on March 27, coming within about 46 miles (74 kilometers) of the moon's surface. The encounter was primarily designed for Cassini's ion and neutral mass spectrometer, which "tasted" the composition of Enceladus' south polar plume. Other instruments, including the Cassini plasma spectrometer and , also took measurements.

This raw image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft was taken on March 27, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Saturn's moon Enceladus at approximately 19,810 miles (31,881 kilometers) away.

Before the closest approach of this encounter, Cassini's cameras imaged the plume, which is comprised of jets of and vapor, and emanating from the .  Later, the cameras captured a nine-frame mosaic of the surface of the moon's leading hemisphere as the spacecraft left the moon.

This raw image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft was taken on March 27, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Saturn's moon Janus. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

After the Enceladus encounter, Cassini passed the small moon Janus with a closest approach distance of 27,000 miles (44,000 kilometers). The planet was in the background in some of these views.

Early on March 28, the spacecraft flew by Dione at a distance of 27,000 miles (44,000 kilometers) and collected, among other observations, a nine-frame mosaic depicting the side of the moon that faces away from Saturn in its orbit.

This raw image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft was taken on March 28, 2012. The camera was pointing toward Saturn's moon Dione at approximately 49,087 miles (78,998 kilometers) away. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

All of Cassini's raw images can be seen at saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/ .

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena manages the mission for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations team is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. JPL is a division of Caltech.

Explore further: Cassini sends back postcards of Saturn moons

Related Stories

Cassini presents Saturn moon quintet

September 19, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- With the artistry of a magazine cover shoot, NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this portrait of five of Saturn's moons poised along the planet's rings.

Saturn's geyser moon Enceladus shows off for Cassini

October 4, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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) ...

Latest Cassini images of Enceladus on view

October 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Raw, unprocessed images from the successful Oct. 19 flyby of Saturn's moon Enceladus by NASA's Cassini spacecraft provide new views of the moon and the icy jets that burst from its southern polar region. ...

Cassini flyby focuses on Saturn's moon Enceladus

November 8, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Saturn's moon Enceladus shows its icy face and famous plumes in raw, unprocessed images captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during its successful flyby on Nov. 6, 2011.

Cassini to make closest pass yet over Enceladus South Pole

March 27, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft is preparing to make its lowest pass yet over the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus, where icy particles and water vapor spray out in glittering jets. The closest approach, ...

Recommended for you

Getting into the flow on the International Space Station

December 1, 2015

Think about underground water and gas as they filter through porous materials like soil and rock beds. On Earth, gravity forces water and gas to separate as they flow through the ground, cleaning the water and storing it ...

Exiled exoplanet likely kicked out of star's neighborhood

December 1, 2015

A planet discovered last year sitting at an unusually large distance from its star - 16 times farther than Pluto is from the sun - may have been kicked out of its birthplace close to the star in a process similar to what ...

Cassini mission provides insight into Saturn

December 1, 2015

Scientists have found the first direct evidence for explosive releases of energy in Saturn's magnetic bubble using data from the Cassini spacecraft, a joint mission between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian ...

Timing a sextuple quasar

December 1, 2015

Quasars are galaxies with massive black holes at their cores around which vast amounts of energy are being radiated. Indeed, so much light is emitted that the nucleus of a quasar is much brighter than the rest of the entire ...


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.