Saturn's brilliant jewel, water-ice-covered Enceladus (504 kilometers, 313 miles across), is the most reflective body in the Solar System. Reflecting greater than 90% of the incident sunlight, this moon was the source of much surprise during the Voyager era. Enceladus exhibits both smooth and lightly cratered terrains that are crisscrossed here and there by linear, groove-like features. It also has characteristics similar to those of Jupiter's moons, Ganymede and Europa, making one of Saturn's most enigmatic moons.
Cassini will investigate its rich geologic record in a series of four planned close flybys. The first flyby is scheduled for February 17, 2005.
The image was taken in visible light with the narrow angle camera on July 3, 2004, from a distance of 1.6 million kilometers (990,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of about 103 degrees. The image scale is 10 kilometers (6 miles) per pixel. The image has not been magnified.
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 Office of Space Science, 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.