Cassini closes in on north pole of Enceladus

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has begun returning its best-ever views of the northern regions of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Last week it passed just 1,839 kilometres above the surface. More images and data are expected over the next few days.

As expected the north polar region of Enceladus is heavily cratered, but the detailed imagery is giving scientists a more complete picture of the moon.

“The northern regions are crisscrossed by a spidery network of gossamer-thin cracks that slice through the craters,” said Paul Helfenstein, a member of the Cassini imaging team at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. “These thin cracks are ubiquitous on Enceladus, and now we see that they extend across the northern terrains as well.”

NASA has posted unprocessed images on the Cassini mission website at:

See also: Could Saturn’s Moon Hold Life? and The Habitable Zone

Cassini 2015 10 19 2
The terrain around the north pole of Enceladus is heavily cratered as expected.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Cassini 2015 10 19 3
A close-up of three craters in the northern regions of Enceladus.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

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