Plumes of icy material extend above the southern polar region of Enceladus as imaged by the Cassini spacecraft in January 2005. The monochrome view is presented along with a color-coded image on the right. The view in this image is perpendicular to the tiger stripe fractures that straddle the south pole. Another plume view, (PIA07798), was taken one month later and looks along the tiger stripe fractures. (See PIA06247 for a view of the tiger stripe features.)
Images like these are being analyzed by scientists as they seek to explain the processes that could be producing such incredible features. As reported in the journal Science on March 10, 2006, imaging scientists believe that the plumes are geysers erupting from pressurized subsurface reservoirs of liquid water above 273 degrees Kelvin (0 degrees Celsius).
These images were taken with the narrow-angle camera from a distance of approximately 209,400 kilometers (130,100 miles) from Enceladus at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 148 degrees. The image scale is about 1.3 kilometer (0.8 mile) per pixel.
*Note: An slightly different version of this image product was released in Nov. 2005. See PIA07760.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.