by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Mar 30, 2012
These raw, unprocessed images of Saturn's moons Enceladus, Janus and Dione were taken on March 27 and 28, 2012, by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
Cassini passed Enceladus first on March 27, coming within about 46 miles (74 kilometers) of the moon's surface. The encounter was primarily designed for Cassini's ion and neutral mass spectrometer, which "tasted" the composition of Enceladus' south polar plume.
Other instruments, including the Cassini plasma spectrometer and composite infrared spectrometer, also took measurements.
Before the closest approach of this encounter, Cassini's cameras imaged the plume which is comprised of jets of water ice and vapor, and organic compounds emanating from the south polar region. Later the cameras captured a nine-frame mosaic of the surface of the moon's leading hemisphere as the spacecraft left the moon.
After the Enceladus encounter, Cassini passed the small moon Janus with a closest approach distance of 27,000 miles (44,000 kilometers). The planet was in the background in some of these views.
Early on March 28, the spacecraft flew by Dione at a distance of 27,000 miles (44,000 kilometers) and collected, among other observations, a nine-frame mosaic depicting the side of the moon that faces away from Saturn in its orbit.
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Is it Snowing Microbes on Enceladus?
Huntsville AL (SPX) Mar 29, 2012
There's a tiny moon orbiting beyond Saturn's rings that's full of promise, and maybe - just maybe - microbes. In a series of tantalizingly close flybys to the moon, named "Enceladus," NASA's Cassini spacecraft has revealed watery jets erupting from what may be a vast underground sea. These jets, which spew through cracks in the moon's icy shell, could lead back to a habitable zone that is ... read more
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