Ice White Gem

Image source with more information
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Click for the full view, because this Cassini image of the Solar System's most popular snowball, Enceladus, is simply gorgeous.

We're looking at the little world as it passes through Saturn's shadow. As you may recall, Saturn's rings create a system where a lot of light gets reflected around to its night-side, and some of this light is reflected again from its cloudtops and moons. All the same, Enceladus is about as in the dark as it ever is, and so the exposure time for the image has clearly been ramped up. Happy side-effect: stars! And not the blurry streaks we usually get, but a beautifully jewel-studded night sky.

Also of note - though far less surprising - is that we're also looking at Enceladus' south pole - the site of its famous tiger stripe Sulci, and its more famous icy geysers of profound mystery. So, an image of one of the most intriguing of worlds, against a starry backdrop. It reminds me just why I'm so fond of Cassini.


Geosomin said...

That is a stunning photo...makes me want to get my telescope fixed so I can go out in the yard and have a look around on the weekend.

Michelle said...

You know, I could see you being a professor and teaching this. You're the first person who has ever piqued my interest in this subject. You've not only influenced me--I was showing these beautiful photos to my students the other day.

Chiya said...

I agree with Michelle, I could also see you teaching this :) great description, and pretty picture.

Pacian said...

Thanks Michelle, Chiya. But really all I do is read the space agency news articles. :-P