Icy Tail on Enceladus

A plume of water ice is seen streaming off the southern pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus in this photograph. Cassini used very long exposure to capture the wispy stream of vapour, so everything else in the image is overexposed. Cassini took the photograph on May 4, 2006 at a distance of approximately 2.1 million kilometers (1.3 million miles) from Enceladus.

The plumes of Enceladus continue to gush icy particles into Saturn orbit, making this little moon one of a select group of geologically active bodies in the solar system.

Enceladus (505 kilometers, or 314 miles across) is seen here against the night side of Saturn. The extended exposure time used to image the plumes also makes the southern hemisphere, illuminated by ring-shine, appear bright.

The image was acquired in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 4, 2006 at a distance of approximately 2.1 million kilometers (1.3 million miles) from Enceladus and 2.3 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) from Saturn. The image was taken at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 159 degrees. Image scale is 13 kilometers (8 miles) per pixel on Enceladus.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .

Original Source: NASA/JPL/SSI News Release