CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Looming Enceladus

Looming Enceladus
PIA 12800

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  Small water ice particles fly from fissures in the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus in this image taken during the Aug. 13, 2010, flyby of the moon by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

This view looks toward the night side of Saturn, which is in the lower left of the image. Enceladus, in the top right, is closer to the spacecraft than the planet is in this view. Sunlight scatters through the planet's atmosphere and forms the bright diagonal line running from the left to bottom right of the image. The atmosphere appears layered here. Scientists think the different layers on the limb are real and not an artifact of the camera's exposure.

The famous jets, imaged by Cassini's cameras for the first time in 2005, are faintly seen here erupting from the fractures that cross the south polar region of the moon.

Illuminated terrain seen on Enceladus is on the leading hemisphere of the moon, or the side facing forward in the moon's orbit around Saturn. North on Enceladus (504 kilometers, 313 miles across) is up. The jets appear faint here, but can be seen near the center of the image. See PIA11688 to learn more.

The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 59,000 kilometers (37,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 155 degrees. Image scale on Enceladus is 353 meters (1,157 feet) per pixel.

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/Space Science Institute
Released: November 30, 2010 (PIA 12800)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
Lee (Dec 1, 2010 at 12:14 PM):
This and Before Saturn's Limb are amazing. Thank you very much.
carolyn (CICLOPS) (Dec 1, 2010 at 11:48 AM):
Iapetus Monolith: Thank you very much!
Iapetus Monolith (Nov 30, 2010 at 6:36 PM):
A stunning image. My first thought on seeing it: "How Stanley Kubrick would have loved it!" The droids who are cutting your mission budget must have faulty CPU's. You should be given a blank cheque for providing humankind with such amazing service. If I were a rich man, I would blow it all on you!