Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Cassini flies by Enceladus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

14-03-2008 16:45 CDT


This is just for fun: I don't have time to do justice to Cassini's flyby of Enceladus this week, but I just can't keep my hands off those images. Here's an animation of some of the photos Cassini took as it flew by, including a dozen or so from the period when Enceladus was in eclipse (click here for more description on what's going on in those pictures).

Cassini's March 12, 2008 flyby of Enceladus

NASA / JPL / SSI / animation by Emily Lakdawalla

Cassini's March 12, 2008 flyby of Enceladus
On March 12, 2008 Cassini flew within 50 kilometers (30 miles) of Saturn's geyser moon Enceladus. Cassini approached from above Enceladus' north pole, seeing the moon as a crescent. As Cassini departed, Enceladus entered Saturn's shadow, so long exposures were required to see Enceladus' surface by light reflected from Saturn's rings to Saturn and then to the moon. As a result of the long exposures, stars streak the backgrounds of these images, and some of the closest images are blurred as Enceladus shrank in the viewfinder while the shutter was open. The 11 approach images were taken with the narrow-angle camera; the 14 departure images were taken with the wide-angle camera.
I like how you can watch the star field shift back and forth as Cassini's camera tracks Enceladus. (I did shift a couple of the frames a little to make Enceladus jump around a little less in the field of view.) In the last two frames, Enceladus came out of eclipse (I think), so the stars disappeared.

Also, I should point out that in an unusually quick turnaround, the ISS team has released their official version of the lovely three-frame mosaic of Enceladus' northern hemisphere, the best-quality images they received during the flyby.

Enceladus' north pole


Enceladus' north pole
As Cassini dove in toward its closest-ever flyby of Enceladus, it captured this three-frame view onto the north pole. Enceladus' north pole is much more heavily cratered than its south pole. But the craters, especially the larger ones, have been modified by subsequent geologic activity, with their centers doming upward; they are also criscrossed by linear tectonic features called "fossae" and "sulci." The two overlapping large craters near the center of the image are triangular Ali Baba and more circular Aladdin, located at 60 degrees north latitude; they form a line pointing to the north pole. To their left is a heavily tectonized region known as Samarkand sulci. Above the two craters (toward the equator) stretches the bright, narrow trough of Isbanir fossa. The area to the right of the two craters, which also contains some prominent sulci, was not imaged by Voyager so had not yet received names at the time that these images were taken.

See other posts from March 2008


Or read more blog entries about:


Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search


Advocate for Space!

Fifteen years ago, Society members and passionate space advocates like you helped save the Pluto mission. Now we can do the same for missions to Europa and Mars.

Join over 27,600 people who have completed their petition and consider a donation to support advocacy efforts.

Sign Our Petition

Featured Images

LightSail-B on the bench
Blue Origin New Shepard after first landing
New Shepard test flight and booster landing
Suni Williams and Doug Hurley in Crew Dragon
More Images

Featured Video

MISSIONS: Dawn In The Asteroid Belt With Marc Rayman

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Selfies to Space!

Take flight with a selfie on LightSail™ in 2016!

Send a Selfie Now

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!