Cassini Views Water Jets from Enceladus

New Cassini Image of Enceladus

Water jets shooting from the southern region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This image from the Cassini Spacecraft shows water jets shooting from the southern region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. Also visible are the rings of Saturn.

Although Enceladus and Saturn’s rings are largely made up of water ice, they show very different characteristics. The small ring particles are too tiny to retain internal heat and have no way to get warm, so they are frozen and geologically dead. Enceladus, on the other hand, is subject to forces that heat its interior to this very day. This results in its famous south polar water jets, which are just visible above the moon’s dark, southern limb, along with a sub-surface ocean.

Recent work by Cassini scientists suggests that Enceladus (313 miles or 504 kilometers across) has a global ocean of liquid water under its surface. This discovery increases scientists’ interest in Enceladus and the quest to understand the role of water in the development of life in the solar system. (For more on the sub-surface ocean, see this story.

This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 0.3 degrees below the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on July 29, 2015.

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 630,000 miles (1.0 million kilometers) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus spacecraft, or phase angle of 155 degrees. The image scale is 4 miles (6 kilometers) per pixel.

1 Comment on "Cassini Views Water Jets from Enceladus"

  1. Madanagopal.V.C. | November 30, 2015 at 8:07 am | Reply

    The feeble southern glow of Saturn’s moon Enceladus is a fantastic sight. We know that all the comets contain ice and stones and water itself is a cosmic making extra-planetary. Water should have been splashed on any planet by the innumerous comets encircling any star in the galaxy. Mostly planetary water would be found on its poles only since they are not exposed to sun very much during its spinning. Here too the polar regions of Enceladus contain water not in ice form but in water form itself , because it is exposed to its second sun the Saturn which is itself a failed star.Hot geysers would be spitting out the water so that they are visible to Cassini the surveyor. Thank You.

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