Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) May 02, 2012
NASA's Cassini spacecraft will be flying within about 46 miles (74 kilometers) of Saturn's moon Enceladus on Wednesday, May 2, aiming primarily to learn more about the moon's internal structure.
The flyby is the third part of a trilogy of flybys - the other two took place on April 28, 2010, and Nov. 30, 2010 - for Cassini's radio science experiment.
The radio science team is particularly interested in learning how mass is distributed under Enceladus' south polar region, which features jets of water ice, water vapor and organic compounds spraying out of long fractures.
A concentration of mass in that region could indicate subsurface liquid water or an intrusion of warmer-than-average ice that might explain the unusual plume activity.
Cassini's scientists learn about the moon's internal structure by measuring variations in the gravitational pull of Enceladus against the steady radio link to NASA's Deep Space Network on Earth.
Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer instrument will also be observing the side of Enceladus that always faces away from Saturn to monitor for hot spots. The imaging camera team also plans to take images of the plume to look for variability in the jets.
Cassini will also be flying by Dione at a distance of about 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers), enabling the imaging cameras to create several mosaic images of the icy moon, and the composite infrared spectrometer to monitor heat emission.
Cassini at JPL
Explore The Ring World of Saturn and her moons
Jupiter and its Moons
The million outer planets of a star called Sol
News Flash at Mercury
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|