Enceladus, Pandora, and Rings (Oh, My!)


Saturn’s moon Enceladus is backlit by the Sun in this Cassini spacecraft image from 2009. The dramatic lighting shows of the plumes that continuously spew into space from the south pole of 500 km diameter moon. The icy plumes are likely fed by an ocean beneath the ice shell of Enceladus. They supply material directly to Saturn’s outer, tenuous E ring and make the surface of Enceladus as reflective as snow. Behind Enceladus, Saturn’s rings scatter sunlight toward Cassini. Beyond the rings, the night side of the 80 km diameter moon Pandora is faintly lit by light reflecting off of Saturn.

Image Credit: NASA

One Last Peek


The Cassini spacecraft took this wide-angle view of Saturn on 28 October, 2016, when it was about 1.4 million km from the planet. The spacecraft has spent 13 years exploring Saturn and its moons, but its mission will end on Friday when its final orbit takes it into the planet’s atmosphere.

Image Credit: NASA