CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Skeet Shooting Enceladus

Cassini's first-of-a-kind sharp shooting over the south polar terrain of Enceladus to image the unusual geology there was a dazzling success, capturing, at close range, several of the 'tiger stripe' fractures that cross the south pole.

Aug 12, 2008: Enceladus Rev 80 Flyby Skeet Shoot #1 - This image is the first skeet-shoot image taken during Cassini's very close flyby of Enceladus on Aug. 11, 2008. Image scale is approximately 10 meters (33 feet) per pixel.
Aug 12, 2008: Enceladus Rev 80 Flyby Skeet Shoot #2 - This image is the second skeet-shoot footprint taken during Cassini's very close flyby of Enceladus on Aug. 11, 2008. Image scale is approximately 13 meters (43 feet) per pixel.
Aug 12, 2008: Enceladus Rev 80 Flyby Skeet Shoot #3 - This image is the third skeet-shoot image taken during Cassini's very close flyby of Enceladus on Aug. 11, 2008. Image scale is approximately 18 meters (59 feet) per pixel.
Aug 12, 2008: Enceladus Rev 80 Flyby Skeet Shoot #4 - This image is the fourth skeet-shoot footprint taken during Cassini's very close flyby of Enceladus on Aug. 11, 2008. Image scale is approximately 20 meters (66 feet) per pixel.
Aug 12, 2008: Enceladus Rev 80 Flyby Skeet Shoot #5 - This image is the fifth skeet-shoot footprint taken during Cassini's very close flyby of Enceladus on Aug. 11, 2008. Image scale is approximately 24 meters (79 feet) per pixel.
Aug 12, 2008: Enceladus Rev 80 Flyby Skeet Shoot #6 - This image is the sixth skeet-shoot footprint taken during Cassini's very close flyby of Enceladus on Aug. 11, 2008. Image scale is approximately 27 meters (89 feet) per pixel.
Aug 12, 2008: Enceladus Rev 80 Flyby Skeet Shoot #7 - This image is the seventh skeet-shoot image taken during Cassini's very close flyby of Enceladus on Aug. 11, 2008. Image scale is approximately 30 meters (98 feet) per pixel.
Alliance Member Comments
NeKto (Aug 15, 2008 at 12:23 PM):
Well Done Paul Helfenstein!!! conratulations and three cheers on an extrodinary job! i use to track satelites with Keplarian ellements, a globe, and a piece of string. that ballpark was a lot easier than the one these home runs were hit in! Thanks to you and the whole team!
sustayne (Aug 15, 2008 at 9:25 AM):
So, why is it that we don't have a whole fleet of these things buzzing all over the solar system? You guys have written the book on deep space imaging and data collection. There should be so much funding available now that it's not funny. You should be handed blank checks and told to go out and keep knocking our socks off.
To say I am blown away is the understatement of understatements. Those little green men out there had better make sure all of their cloaking devices are in tiptop shape and that the base camps are moved deep underground, otherwise the Cassini crew (a.k.a. the "deep-space paparazzi") is zoomin' in!

As always...job well done and thanks for all the very hard work!!!!!!

S.
demmith (Aug 15, 2008 at 5:51 AM):
Carolyn: Thanks, got it. The photos are phenomenal - what an ingenius technique and to get it right on the first try - amazing!!
carolyn (CICLOPS) (Aug 14, 2008 at 8:29 PM):
demmith: We flew by the equator at an altitude of 50 km so that we could fly near the south polar region at altitudes of ~ 1400 km or so. Remember, we're not in orbit around Enceladus, but only flying by.
demmith (Aug 14, 2008 at 5:35 PM):
I meant to write 50 kilometers not 50 miles.
demmith (Aug 14, 2008 at 5:33 PM):
These photos are simply astounding!! One question though - the closest photo is from 800 miles out - is that the closest you can get and get a photo of reasonable quality? Cassini supposedly skimmed by at an altitude of 50 miles. Why take the risk of getting that close if its too close for photographing?
carolyn (CICLOPS) (Aug 14, 2008 at 8:32 AM):
3488 (Andrew): We will be using the skeet shoot maneuver for the flyby on October 31 which is also dedicated to surface imaging and thermal measurements. I'm sure we'll use it more, but realize it took a LOT of work on the part of our imaging team associate, Paul Helfenstein, to make this work. I don't know if the poor guy can live through many more of these!

We're discussing now on the team the origins of all the details, including the ice boulders. You'll need to give us some time. This is the first time we've seen these things, too ;-) !!

And when the timeline is so jam packed with exciting things to do, I doubt we would decide to put such precious resources doing the same over the north pole. Enceladus is asymmetric: that is the real underlying message here, and we know that already. And there's a lot of activity among Cassini folks, and the planetary science community in general, to try to understand why.
Mercury_3488 (Aug 14, 2008 at 7:15 AM):
Superb Carolyn. I for one have thoroughly relished this encounter. Now we know the Skeet technique is 100% successful, will it be used for the other Enceladus passes & the Dione & Rhea ones too?

Even at these high resolutions, there appear to be no cryovolcanic flows. Pleantry of extentianl faulting, graben, normal faulting, but no flows. Also any ideas as to the source of the huge number of ice boulders? Have they been thrown out of the sulci?

Are ther any close Northern polar passes planned. I know its older cratered terrain, but a close pass over the top of Enceladus may provide clues as to why the activity is confined to the south, gravity data, high resolution imagery, etc?

Just a thought.

Andrew Brown.
lostcolony (Aug 14, 2008 at 1:22 AM):
> Why are the hills rounded?
if these are water ice hills, might it be sublimation ?
carolyn (CICLOPS) (Aug 14, 2008 at 0:24 AM):
Everyone: Well, was that exciting enough for you all?!! I can hardly believe it myself. Part of me during these events is overcome with excitement, and another part falls into a stupor...unable to get my head around the historic nature of it all. I mean, we here on Earth commanded something to happen clear across the solar system, and as a result of that, some precious bundles of electromagnetic radiation came screaming to us, all the way from Saturn, got intercepted by some giant antennas across the globe, were reconstructed into 2-dimensional imagery, and eventually landed on all our computer screens where all of us, across the whole planet, at the same time, saw a place we'd never seen before in such detail. Really... dwell on that for a while, and tell me how it makes you feel. It makes me feel VERY, VERY BIG. And very proud to be a highly evolved organism on planet Earth. That's not a bad calling card, is it?

About what we are seeing in our images ... we have a press release coming out sometime tomorrow or the next day...depending on how quickly the approval process moves. I think you'll like it! ;-)
DGDanforth (Aug 13, 2008 at 6:47 PM):
Why are the hills rounded? Surely not from atmospheric erosion. Are these soft lava flows? There are also smooth slopes which again suggests some sort of liquid flow or soft particulate flow. Amazing what new stuff is revealed on chunks of matter floating in the vast void.
stowaway (Aug 13, 2008 at 4:15 PM):
Congratulations Captain Carolyn - great pictures!

Want to add a comment?   Login (for Alliance Members) ... or ... Join the CICLOPS Alliance!