Cassini to dip into Enceladus spray again

April 16, 2012 By Jia-Rui Cook
NASA's Cassini spacecraft will make a close approach to the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus on April 14, 2012. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

( -- Less than three weeks after its last visit to the Saturnian moon Enceladus, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returns for an encore. At closest approach on April 14, the spacecraft will be just as low over the moon's south polar region as it was on March 27 -- 46 miles, or 74 kilometers.

Like the last, this latest flyby is mainly designed for Cassini's ion and neutral mass spectrometer, which will "taste" the particles in the curious jets spraying from the moon's . Combined with the March 27 flyby and a similar flyby on Oct. 1, 2011, this close encounter will provide a sense of the jets' three-dimensional structure and help determine how much they change over time.

On Cassini's outbound leg, the spacecraft will pass by another Saturnian moon, Tethys, at a distance of about 6,000 miles (9,000 kilometers). The will look for patterns in Tethys' thermal signature. Other instruments will study the moon's composition and geology. The imaging cameras are expected to obtain new views of Enceladus and Tethys.

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

Explore further: Cassini to make closest pass yet over Enceladus South Pole

More information: For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit: and .

Related Stories

Cassini to make closest pass yet over Enceladus South Pole

March 27, 2012

( -- 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, ...

Icy Moons through Cassini's Eyes

March 29, 2012

( -- 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.

Latest Cassini images of Enceladus on view

October 21, 2011

( -- 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

( -- 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.

Saturn's geyser moon Enceladus shows off for Cassini

October 4, 2011

( -- 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) ...

Cassini presents Saturn moon quintet

September 19, 2011

( -- 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.

Recommended for you

Image: Changing colors in Saturn's pole

October 26, 2016

These two natural color images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft show the changing appearance of Saturn's north polar region between 2012 and 2016.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Apr 17, 2012
How is this water being replenished? The water should have dried up long ago on such A tiny moon.

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.