The venerable Cassini spacecraft will make an extremely close flyby of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, one of the most intriguing moons in the Saturn system. Earlier flybys by Cassini revealed a geyser-like plume of ice particles shooting up from Enceladus’ south pole region. This means there’s a water source on the moon, and of course, water on another body in our solar system is an intriguing mystery that we want to take a closer look at. And this look will be extremely close. At one point during the flyby, when Cassini is near the equator of Enceladus, the spacecraft will only be about 50 km from the moonâ€™s surface.
Cassini will skim over moon on March 12, at 19:06 UT. When Cassini is near the south pole, however, the spacecraft will be about 200km from Enceladus’ surface– which is probably a good thing. Even a small particle hitting the spacecraft could do a lot of damage, and the scientists say Cassini should be flying well above where any ice particles should be.
Learn more about the flyby in this video that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory put together.
Also, this graphic shows the areas on Enceladus that will be observable to Cassini as it whizzes by. Cassini’s scientists are hoping this flyby will help us understand the interior of this moon and how extensive its water source may be.
Original News Source: Cassini website