Carolyn Porco, the lead for Cassini’s imaging team, warned on Twitter that the flyby of Saturn’s moon Enceladus performed by the spacecraft on Nov. 2 wasn’t really an “imaging” flyby, and that we might have to wait until the Nov. 21 flyby for really good images. But just take a look the images returned so far, with stunning looks at the jets shooting from the moon! Another image takes a close look at the surface. These are raw, unprocessed images, but what images they are! This is the second image from today’s flyby returned by the spacecraft. See below for more.
Cassini came within about 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the surface. The spacecraft has gone closer during a previous flyby (25 kilometers or 15 miles). This is the third image sent back so far from this flyby, showing the surface of the tiger-striped, geyser-spewing moon. According to the CICLOPS website, this image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera at a distance of approximately 14,000 kilometers (8,700 miles) from Enceladus. The plan was for the spacecraft to go deep into the heart of the plume from the geysers on the tiger-striped moon; as of yet no images from the plume have been released. The objective of this flyby was to analyze the particles in the plume with instruments that can detect the size, mass, charge, speed and composition. The spacecraft spent only about a minute in the plume.
Here’s a view from farther away, with the plumes visible against the backlit moon.
We’ll add any more images that become available.