Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Last Enceladus Plume Observation - UNIVERSE
This movie sequence of images is from the last dedicated observation of the Enceladus plume by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.
The images were obtained over approximately 14 hours as Cassini's cameras stared at the active, icy moon. The view during the entire sequence is of the moon's night side, but Cassini's perspective Enceladus shifts during the sequence. The movie begins with a view of the part of the surface lit by reflected light from Saturn and transitions to completely unilluminated terrain. The exposure time of the images changes about halfway through the sequence, in order to make fainter details visible. (The change also makes background stars become visible.)
Enceladus is Saturn's sixth largest moon, only 157 miles (252 km) in mean radius, but it's one of the most scientifically compelling bodies in our solar system. Hydrothermal vents spew water vapor and ice particles from an underground ocean beneath the icy crust of Enceladus. This plume of material includes organic compounds, volatile gases, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, salts and silica.