Monday, October 10, 2011

Enceladus as you've never seen it!


Saturn's moon Enceladus has captured the imagination of scientists over the last several years because of the active jets near its south pole. Enceladus is spewing material into outer space as it orbits Saturn, creating the "E" ring, and spurring speculation about the conditions in its subsurface oceans. This photo, captured by the spacecraft Cassini last year, shows a new view of these geysers (the south pole here is shown in the "up" position). As with all photos taken of the active geysers, the sun is backlighting the moon, making the plumes visible. The surface of Enceladus itself is illuminated by "Saturn-glow," reflected sunlight from Saturn, bouncing and lighting the night side of Enceladus.

Read more about this spectacular image at the Planetary Society Blog.