We on Cassini are very happy to report that we have just successfully put behind us one more major milestone in this remarkable adventure: an acutely close flyby of the icy moon Enceladus.
Another bold dip over the south pole of Enceladus on Halloween and another skillful setup for imaging the moon `on the fly' have brought us another bounty of positively glorious views of one of the most fabulous places in the solar system.
On this run, we have captured, by design, jet source locales on the tiger stripes crossing the south polar terrain that we didn't catch during our first 'skeet shoot' maneuver back in August -- sources VI and VII on and near the Baghdad fracture -- and we have repeated our imaging of II and III on Damascus. In all, we've now seen at very high resolution (tens of meters per pixel) sources I, II, III, V, VI, and VII.
And of course, as before, we note that the region surrounding the active tiger stripes is finely-fractured throughout and littered with icy blocks.
It will be another year before we encounter Enceladus up close again. The sun will be disappearing from the south pole throughout that time, so that by next year we will have a far dimmer view of a shrinking illuminated portion of the tiger stripe terrain.
So, take your fill now of this fabulous place at the southern tip of this small enigmatic moon because it will be a very, very long time before you see it like this again.
Carolyn Porco Cassini Imaging Team Leader CICLOPS Boulder, CO