Image of the Day: Cassini's dramatic half-moon shot of Enceladus

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Feb 1, 2016

The cooperative Cassini-Huygens project is nearing the end of its historic mission to the Saturn system after 12 years of images and exploration around the ringed gas giant and its network of 62 moons and moonlets.   The probe's main team, headquartered at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, released this new photo of Enceladus, showing the stunning satellite at half phase.  Cassini made its final flyby of Enceladus on Dec. 19 and will ease into an eventual controlled descent to Saturn's atmosphere Sept. 15, 2017.

This latest released shot was taken on Sept. 8, 2015, at a distance of 80,000 miles

Here's a description of the evocative image from Cassini's team:

This half-lit view of Enceladus bears a passing resemblance to similar views of Earth’s own natural satellite, but the similarities end there. Earth’s rocky moon is covered in dark, volcanic basins and brighter, mountainous highlands — both exceedingly ancient. The surface of icy Enceladus is uniformly bright, far brighter than Earth’s moon. Large areas of Enceladus’ surface are characterized by youthful (on geologic timescales), wrinkled terrains.


(Via Gizmodo)


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