CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Bursting at the Seams: the Geyser Basin of Enceladus
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Bursting at the Seams: the Geyser Basin of Enceladus
PIA 11688

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  Dramatic plumes, both large and small, spray water ice and vapor from many locations along the famed "tiger stripes" near the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus. The tiger stripes are four prominent, approximately 84-mile- (135-kilometer-) long fractures that cross the moon's south polar terrain.

This two-image mosaic is one of the highest resolution views acquired by Cassini during its imaging survey of the geyser basin capping the southern hemisphere of Saturn's moon Enceladus. It clearly shows the curvilinear arrangement of geysers, erupting from the fractures. .From left to right, the fractures are Alexandria, Cairo, Baghdad, and Damascus.

As a result of this survey, 101 geysers were discovered: 100 have been located on one of the tiger stripes (PIA17188) , and the three-dimensional configurations of 98 of these geysers have also been determined (PIA17186). The source location of the remaining geyser could not be definitively established. These results, together with those of other Cassini instruments, now strongly suggest that the geysers have their origins in the sea known to exist beneath the ice underlying the south polar terrain (PIA17190).

These findings from the imaging survey, of which the two images composing this mosaic are a part, were presented in a paper by Porco, DiNino, and Nimmo and published in the online version of the Astronomical Journal in July 2014:

A companion paper, by Nimmo et al. is available at:

The images were taken by Cassini's narrow-angle camera through the clear filter during a close Enceladus flyby on November 21, 2009, from a sub-spacecraft latitude on Enceladus of about 7.5 degrees south and a sub-spacecraft West Longitude of about 195 degrees. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 14,000 kilometers (9,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 145 degrees. The spatial scale is 266 feet (81 meters) per pixel.

This image was previously released on Feb. 23, 2010, see Bursting at the Seams.

The Cassini Solstice Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. 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.

For more information about the Cassini Solstice Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI
Released: July 28, 2014 (PIA 11688)
Image/Caption Information

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