Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Saturn News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



SATURN DAILY
Cassini Begins Series of Flybys of Enceladus
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Oct 14, 2015


NASA's Cassini spacecraft will get its best-ever look at the northernmost reaches of the Saturnian moon Enceladus on Oct. 14. Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft will wrap up its time in the region of Saturn's large, icy moons with a series of three close encounters with Enceladus starting Wednesday, Oct. 14. Images are expected to begin arriving one to two days after the flyby, which will provide the first opportunity for a close-up look at the north polar region of Enceladus.

Wednesday's flyby is considered a moderately close approach for Cassini, which will pass at an altitude of 1,142 miles (1,839 kilometers) above the moon's surface. Closest approach to Enceladus will occur at 3:41 a.m. PDT (6:41 a.m. EDT). The spacecraft's final two approaches will take place in late October and mid-December.

During Cassini's early-mission encounters with the moon, the northern terrain of Enceladus was masked by wintry darkness. Now that the summer sun is shining on the high northern latitudes, scientists will be looking for signs of ancient geological activity similar to the geyser-spouting, tiger-stripe fractures in the moon's south polar region. Features observed during the flyby could help them understand whether the north also was geologically active at some time in the past.

"We've been following a trail of clues on Enceladus for 10 years now," said Bonnie Buratti, a Cassini science team member and icy moons expert at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "The amount of activity on and beneath this moon's surface has been a huge surprise to us. We're still trying to figure out what its history has been, and how it came to be this way."

Since Cassini's 2005 discovery of continually-erupting fountains of icy material on Enceladus, the Saturn moon has become one of the most promising places in the solar system to search for present-day habitable environments. Mission scientists announced evidence in March that hydrothermal activity may be occurring on the seafloor of the moon's underground ocean. In September they broke news that its ocean - previously thought to be only a regional sea - was, in fact, global.

"The global nature of Enceladus' ocean and the inference that hydrothermal systems might exist at the ocean's base strengthen the case that this small moon of Saturn may have environments similar to those at the bottom of our own ocean," said Jonathan Lunine, an interdisciplinary scientist on the Cassini mission at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. "It is therefore very tempting to imagine that life could exist in such a habitable realm, a billion miles from our home."

The Oct. 14 encounter will serve as a prelude to the main event, a flyby of Enceladus on Wednesday, Oct. 28, during which Cassini will come dizzyingly close to the icy moon, passing a mere 30 miles (49 kilometers) above the moon's south polar region.

During this encounter, Cassini will make its deepest-ever dive through the moon's plume of icy spray, collecting images and valuable data about what's going on beneath the frozen surface. Cassini scientists are hopeful data from that flyby will provide evidence of how much hydrothermal activity is occurring in the moon's ocean, and how the amount of activity impacts the habitability of Enceladus' ocean.

Cassini's final close flyby on Dec. 19 will examine how much heat is coming from the moon's interior from an altitude of 3,106 miles (4,999 kilometers). Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2004 and still has about two years left on its mission. Beginning in November, mission controllers will begin to slowly raise Cassini's orbit out of the space around the Saturn's equator, where flybys of the large moons are more common. Coming up are a number of closest-ever brushes with the small moons that huddle near the planet's rings.

"We'll continue observing Enceladus and its remarkable activity for the remainder of our precious time at Saturn," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at JPL. "But these three encounters will be our last chance to see this fascinating world up close for many years to come."

An online toolkit for all three final Enceladus flybys is available here


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Cassini at JPL
Explore The Ring World of Saturn and her moons
Jupiter and its Moons
The million outer planets of a star called Sol
News Flash at Mercury






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
SATURN DAILY
Saturn's Moon Enceladus Hosts A Global Ocean
Mountain View CA (SPX) Sep 16, 2015
Every square inch of Saturn's small moon Enceladus overlies a potentially habitable ocean. Observations of Enceladus' slight wobble as it orbits Saturn can only be explained if the outer crust floats freely from the inner core, according to scientists studying images taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. This means there is a globe-spanning ocean beneath Enceladus' icy surface. Enceladus has ... read more


SATURN DAILY
Lakes on Mars - SETI Editorial

NASA outlines obstacles to putting a human on Mars

ASU Mars images star in 'The Martian'

Mars colonisation still far off: Amitabh Ghosh

SATURN DAILY
Lunar Pox

Space startup confirms plans for robotic moon landings

Asteroids found to be the moon's main 'water supply'

Russian scientist hope to get rocket fuel, water, oxygen from Lunar ice

SATURN DAILY
Cassini Begins Series of Flybys of Enceladus

Saturn's Moon Enceladus Hosts A Global Ocean

Cassini Finds Global Ocean in Saturn's Moon Enceladus

Under Saturnian moon's icy crust lies a 'global' ocean

SATURN DAILY
Latest Mars film bespeaks potential of China-U.S. space cooperation

Exhibition on "father of Chinese rocketry" opens in U.S.

The First Meeting of the U.S.-China Space Dialogue

China's new carrier rocket succeeds in 1st trip

SATURN DAILY
New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto

Pluto's Small Moons Nix and Hydra

Blue skies, frozen water detected on Pluto

Pluto's Big Moon Charon Reveals a Colorful and Violent History

SATURN DAILY
Airbus DS ready to start testing exoplanet tracker CHEOPS

Hubble Telescope Spots Mysterious Space Objects

Exoplanet Anniversary: From Zero to Thousands in 20 Years

Mysterious ripples found racing through planet-forming disc

SATURN DAILY
Where to look for life

Where to Search for Life? 'Habitability Index' Devised as a Guide

Study adds to evidence that viruses are alive

Electron transport between species discovered in deep-sea research

SATURN DAILY
NASA Eyes on Earth Aid Response to Carolina Flooding

New study indicates Earth's inner core was formed 1-1.5 billion years ago

China launches commercial remote-sensing satellites

Indonesia launches indigenous satellite




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement