Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Plume Run

The Cassini Orbiter completed its seventh close encounter with Saturn's small but highly active moon Enceladus yesterday, passing within a hundred kilometres of the south pole and ploughing through the plumes of water ice fired into space by some as yet unknown process deep beneath the surface. For much of the pass, Cassini was using various instruments to sample the plume, but it took pictures before and after the encounter; Emily Lakdwalla has pasted a couple of the best images in her blog over at the Planetary Society's site, including one of fissured and folded terrain that reminds me all over again that despite its small size, just five hundred kilometres in diameter, Enceldaus possesses an extremely varied and geologically active surface. It's easy to imagine climbing one of those ridges and looking out at a tangle of long, low bright hills snaking towards the sharply curved horizon . . .


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