Cassini Returns Views of the North Pole of Enceladus

Posted on October 15, 2015

NASA has started sharing images captured by the Cassini spacecraft on its flyby of the north pole of Saturn's moon Enceldaus. The image above is a close-up of the moon's north pole. Cassini took the image when it was 1,142 miles (1,839 kilometers) above the moon's surface on October 14.

Paul Helfenstein, a member of the Cassini imaging team at Cornell University, says in a statement, "The northern regions are crisscrossed by a spidery network of gossamer-thin cracks that slice through the craters. These thin cracks are ubiquitous on Enceladus, and now we see that they extend across the northern terrains as well."

The image above shows battered terrain around the north pole. It was taken using the spacecrafts' wide-angle camera. Larger versions of the images can be found here and here.

NASA also shared this image dubbed the "Saturnian Snowman." The image taken with the narrow-angle camera on October 14 shows a tight trio of craters that resemble a snowman. It was taken when Cassini was about 6,000 miles (10,000 kilometers) from the surface of Enceladus.

Cassini's next encounter with Enceladus is planned for Oct. 28, when the spacecraft will come within 30 miles (49 kilometers) of the moon's south polar region. During this flyby Cassini will dive through the moon's plume of icy spray to sample the chemistry of the extraterrestrial ocean beneath the ice. Cassini will make another flyby on Dec. 19 to measure the amount of heat coming from the moon's interior.

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