Saturn and Some of Its Moons


The animation shows the orbits of Saturn’s visible moons Tethys, Janus, Mimas, Enceladus, and Rhea over the observing run in June, 2019 (with elapsed time bar).

Video Credits: NASA / ESA / A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) / M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley) / J. DePasquale (STScI)

Not a Solar Eclipse


titanbusy_cassini_960No, it’s not a solar eclipse. It’s a picture of the rings and a couple of the moons of Saturn. The large object near the center is Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and one of the most interesting objects in the entire Solar System. The central dark spot is the body of the moon. The bright halo is atmospheric haze above Titan. The gases of the atmosphere scatter sunlight. Saturn’s rings are shown nearly edge on. Enceladus, a small moon, is at about 4 or 5 o’clock at the edge of Titan.

This image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft’s camera pointing almost directly at the Sun, so the surfaces of Titan and Enceladus appear in silhouette, and the rings of Saturn look like a photographic negative.

Image Credit: NASA

Tuning in on Saturn


New research from the up-close Grand Finale orbits of the Cassini mission shows a surprisingly powerful interaction of plasma waves moving from Saturn to its moon Enceladus. The data used to make this video was captured by the Radio Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) instrument two weeks before Cassini was deliberately plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn.

Video Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / University of Iowa

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

Bullseye


Enceladus_Tethys_bullseyEnceladus and Tethys line up almost perfectly in this shot from the Cassini spacecraft. Since the two moons are not only aligned, but also at nearly the same distance from Cassini, their apparent sizes are a reasonable approximation of their relative sizes. Enceladus is 504 km across, and Tethys is 1,062 km in diameter.

Image Credit: NASA

Dione and Enceladus


Dione_EnceladusAlthough Saturn’s moons Dione (in the foreground) and Enceladus are made of more or less the same stuff, Enceladus has a considerably higher reflectivity than Dione. Therefore, it appears brighter against the blackness of space.

Enceladus has a constant rain of ice grains from its south polar jets which cover its surface with a bright snow. Dione’s older, weathered surface has slowly gathered dust and radiation damage, darkening through a process known as “space weathering.”

Image Credit: NASA

Enceladus Close Up


Enceladus close upDuring its close flyby last Wednesday of the active south polar region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, the Cassini spacecraft grabbed this view of the terrain below. It’s centered on terrain at 57° S latitude by 324° W longitude. The spacecraft was about 124 km from Enceladus. The image resolution is 15 m per pixel.

Image Credit: NASA

Enceladus Up Close


Enceladus North PoleThe Cassini spacecraft flew by Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus a couple of days ago, and snapped this picture of the moon’s north pole. Based on low-resolution images from the Voyager mission, we expected the north polar region of Enceladus to be heavily cratered. This high-resolution image shows a landscape of stark contrasts with thin cracks crossing over the pole. The moon’s surface is full of cracks, but until this flyby, we didn’t know if the fractures extended so far north.

 

Image Credit: NASA

Not a Solar Eclipse


titanbusy_cassini_960No, it’s not a solar eclipse. It’s a picture of the rings and a couple of the moons of Saturn. The large object near the center is Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and one of the most interesting objects in the entire Solar System. The central dark spot is the body of the moon. The bright halo is atmospheric haze above Titan. The gases of the atmosphere scatter sunlight. Saturn’s rings are shown nearly edge on. Enceladus, a small moon, is at about 4 or 5 o’clock at the edge of Titan.

This image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft’s camera pointing almost directly at the Sun, so the surfaces of Titan and Enceladus appear in silhouette, and the rings of Saturn look like a photographic negative.

Image Credit: NASA

Beautiful Plumage


If you google “beautiful plumage,” the first hit is the YouTube video of the Monthy Python Dead Parrot sketch. That’s what I first thought of when I saw the headline on the NASA site for this photo of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. I had to chuckle.beautiful_plumage

This copy is from NASA’s caption of the picture—

Like a proud peacock displaying its tail, Enceladus shows off its beautiful plume to the Cassini spacecraft’s cameras.
Enceladus (313 miles, or 504 kilometers across) is seen here illuminated by light reflected off Saturn.
This view looks toward the Saturn-facing side of Enceladus. North on Enceladus is up and rotated 45 degrees to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 18, 2013.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 483,000 miles (777,000 kilometers) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 173 degrees. Image scale is 3 miles (5 kilometers) per pixel.

Image Credit: NASA

Moons


moons_SaturnRhea, Enceladus, and Dione are three of Saturn’s moons.  This is what they looked like as seen from the Cassini spacecraft on 25 April, 2011. Saturn is also present in the picture on the left but is too dark to see. Rhea is closest to Cassini. It is the largest moon in center of the image. Enceladus is to the right of Rhea. Dione is to the left of Rhea and is partially covered by Saturn.

Image Credit:  NASA

Moons and Rings


A brightly reflective Enceladus appears before Saturn’s rings, while the planet’s larger moon Titan lurks in the distance. Jets of water ice and vapor emanating from the south pole of Enceladus, which hint at subsurface sea rich in organics, and liquid hydrocarbons ponding on the surface on the surface of Titan make these two of the most fascinating moons in the Saturnian system.

Enceladus (504 km across) is in the center of the image. Titan (5,150 km across) shows up faintly in the background beyond the rings. This view looks toward the anti-Saturn side of Enceladus and the Saturn-facing side of Titan. The northern, sunlit side of the rings is seen from just above the ringplane.

The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on 12 March, 2012. The spacecraft was about 1 million km from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft angle of 36 degrees.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL

Enceladus


Here’s a picture of a moon shining by the light of its planet. Most of Enceladus in this image is illuminated by sunlight reflected from Saturn. The normally snow-white moon appears in the gold color of Saturn’s cloud tops. Because the light comes from the image left, a labyrinth of ridges throws notable shadows just to the right of the image center; the kilometer-deep canyon Labtayt Sulci is visible just below. The bright crescent on the is the part of Enceladus directly lit by the Sun. This image was taken last year by the Cassini spacecraft during a close pass by by the moon. If you look closely at the lower leftt of this digitally sharpened image, you can see plumes of ice crystals thought to originate in a subsurface sea.

Image Credit: NASA

 

Quintet


A quintet of Saturn’s moons appear in this image taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

Janus (179 kilometers, or 111 miles across) is on the far left. Pandora (81 kilometers, or 50 miles across) orbits between the A ring and the thin F ring near the middle of the image. Brightly reflective Enceladus (504 kilometers, or 313 miles across) appears above the center of the image. Part of Saturn’s second largest moon Rhea (1,528 kilometers, or 949 miles across) is visible at the right edge of the image. The smaller moon Mimas (396 kilometers, or 246 miles across) can be seen beyond Rhea also on the right side of the image.

This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from just above the ringplane. Rhea is closest moon to Cassini here. The rings are beyond Rhea and Mimas. Enceladus is beyond the rings.

The image was taken by Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on 29 July, 2011. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.1 million kilometers (684,000 miles) from Rhea and 1.8 million kilometers (1.1 million miles) from Enceladus.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL