A Snowball in Space

December 23, 2013
PIA NumberPIA17182
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Saturn's moon Enceladus, covered in snow and ice, resembles a perfectly packed snowball in this image from NASA's Cassini mission. Cassini has imaged Enceladus many times throughout its mission, discovering a fractured surface and the now-famous geysers that erupt icy particles and water vapor from fractures crossing the moons' 200-mile-wide (300-kilometer-wide) south polar terrain.

The mountain ridge seen in the south in this image is part of the undulating mountain belt that circumscribes this region.

See PIA11685 to learn more about the surface of Enceladus. See Bursting at the Seams to learn about the jets of water ice emanating from the moon's south polar region.

This view looks toward the leading side of Enceladus (313 miles, 504 kilometers across). North on Enceladus is up and rotated 6 degrees to the left. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 10, 2012, using filters sensitive to ultraviolet, visible and infrared light (spanning wavelengths from 338 to 750 nanometers).

The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 106,000 miles (170,000 kilometers) from Enceladus. Image scale is 3,336 feet (1 kilometer) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov or http://www.nasa.gov/cassini . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org .

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute