What lurks in the eerie fractures of Enceladus that slash across the moon’s south polar region? The Cassini spacecraft will make a Halloween flyby of Enceladus and focus its cameras and other optical remote sensing instruments on the mysterious tiger-stripe-like features seen on this strange moon of Saturn. This flyby comes just over three weeks after a previous flyby of the same moon, and then just a few days later, on November 3, Cassini will make a flyby of Titan, on the inbound leg of its orbit around the ringed world. What tricks do the Cassini scientists have up their sleeves for this flyby? Will we be treated to some spectacular images? And what about those spooky sounds from Saturn?
For the Oct. 31 flby, the spacecraft will zoom by the Enceladus at 17.7 km/sec (39,600 mph, cruising just 197 km (122 miles) from the moon’s surface. Cassini will approach the moon on a fast, inclined trajectory over the northern hemisphere and will depart over the southern hemisphere. The closest approach occurs on October 31st at 17:14:51 UT over latitude 28° S and longitude 97° W. The Optical Remote Sensing (ORS) instruments are at the focus of the science operations during this fly-by. The Imaging Science Subsystem camera will execute a sophisticated series of images starting just 2 minutes after closest-approach, obtaining images of the south polar “tiger stripes” at resolutions as high as 8.4 m/pixel. Enceladus will be in eclipse (in Saturn’s shadow) for about 2.5 hours, starting about 50 minutes after closest-approach.
In honor of the Halloween, the Cassini website has posted Spooky Sounds from Saturn. Check it out!
Sources: Cassini website, SATNews