CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Special Holiday Raw Preview #2

Special Holiday Raw Preview #2
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  This raw, unprocessed image of Enceladus was taken by Cassini on Dec. 25, 2009.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Dec. 25, 2009 at a distance of approximately 617,000 kilometers (383,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 174 degrees. Image scale is 4 kilometers (2 miles) per pixel.

The Cassini Equinox 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 Equinox Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: December 27, 2009
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
enceladus5 (May 15, 2010 at 6:31 PM):
I'm shocked and amazed over how such a small moon could produce such amazing geysers. What a great image!!!
Dragon_of_Luck_Mah_Jonng1971 (Dec 31, 2009 at 1:19 PM):
Interesting and special.
Pepper (Dec 30, 2009 at 9:20 AM):
That's no moon... It's a space station. >.>
The jets look like correctional boosters <.< sorry... couldn't help myself.

But still, very nice. :)
mipsandbips (Dec 28, 2009 at 6:48 PM):
The clarity of the jets in this image is astonishing, magnificent!
carolyn (CICLOPS) (Dec 28, 2009 at 12:46 PM):
AaronBegley: Don't be fooled. This image was taken at an incredibly high phase angle, when the s/c was in Saturn's shadow, so things that are faint at lower phase angles look `obvious' to you in this image when in fact they are not. Also, we never got a good look at the southern hemisphere with Voyager; we even missed the tiger stripes back then. Regardless, some of the jets -- and maybe all of them -- are `intermittent' in the sense that we expect they could turn on and off on a daily timescale (where `daily' here means 1.3 Earth days). You should read my December 2008 Scientific American article on Enceladus if you're interested in this moon.
AaronBegley (Dec 28, 2009 at 12:17 PM):
I'm struck by how bright the jets are in this image. My knee-jerk thought is that these jets seem bright enough to have been picked up by Voyager 2's camera. (Maybe the jets are intermittent?)

I'm sure you thought of this, but I cant help but want to play scientist when the images are this beautiful. :)
gloetzel (Dec 28, 2009 at 3:39 AM):
This image is most intriguing! This image must spike the curiosity of our young peoples minds. Your work here is so important to humanity. Thank you for this uplifting achievement!
carolyn (CICLOPS) (Dec 27, 2009 at 2:58 PM):
evp: It has been calculated; it is miniscule!
evp (Dec 27, 2009 at 2:53 PM):
This reminds me of the moon lander in "2001, A Space Odyseey", complete with rockets. I wonder if anyone has calculated how much net thrust the jets are producing? Certainly not much compared to the mass of the moon, but over millennia it might be enough to noticeably affect the orbit.
brainiac9129 (Dec 27, 2009 at 1:17 PM):
Wonderful. Gorgeous. What a Christmas gift! Congratulations to the team.