NASA has unveiled a series of eerie, but stunning images of icy geysers coming out of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s 62 moons. Reports are suggesting that we will soon witness the release of more data gathered during the probe’s deepest ever dive into the plume.
For those who don’t know: Enceladus’ diameter is only 310 miles and its size is one-tenth of that of the planet’s biggest moon Titan.
Scientists will be using the facts and figures collected by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft for getting answers to questions such as whether Enceladus’ environment is suitable for existence of life and if yes, to what extent.
The Cassini probe of NASA has presented fresh images of the icy, geologically active moon of Saturn. These new images were captured during Cassini’s flyby of Enceladus this Wednesday. At one point during this recent flyby, the probe was only 30 miles away from the Enceladus’ southern pole.
Linda Spilker, the project scientist of the mission, said that the images captured during this ultra-close flyby are allowing her and her colleagues to have a closer look of the geyser moon of Saturn. However, she added that we will soon witness arrival of some more fascinating science. Spilker is currently operating from the American space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA.
Cassini, which happens to be the 4th spacecraft to visit Saturn and the very first to enter the ringed planet’s orbit, has been performing the job of studying Saturn and all its natural satellites since 2004 i.e. since the year it arrived there. Astronomers believe that the probe will keep on transmitting data for some more time.
Soon, we will see scientists studying data obtained from Cassini’s dust detectors and gas analyzers. Those instruments have sampled the icy particles and plume of gas from Enceladus directly during Wednesday’s flyby.
Experts are saying that those analyses will most likely take several weeks to be finished. However, once the process will be over, we will surely obtain important insights about the elements constituting the global ocean underneath the surface of Enceladus. Results of the analyses will also provide information on hydrothermal activities taking place in the ocean floor.
The next and the final Enceladus flyby of Cassini will be taking place on December 19, 2015. During this upcoming flyby, the probe will be measuring the heat emitted by Enceladus’ interior.