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The sunlit plumes of Enceladus

Saturn’s moon enceladus with the sun behind it.
Saturn’s moon Enceladus with the Sun behind it.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The plumes of gas jetting from Enceladus’ south-polar region are here seen from afar, backlit by sunlight while the moon itself glows softly in reflected Saturn-shine.

Observations of the jets taken from different angles provide different insights into these remarkable features. The Cassini mission has gathered a wealth of information in the hopes of unraveling the mysteries of the subsurface ocean that lurks beneath the moon’s icy crust.

This view looks toward the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Enceladus. North is up. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 13, 2017.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 808,000 kilometers from Enceladus and with near-perfect alignment of the Sun, Enceladus and the spacecraft.