Cassini Takes Close-up Photos of Saturnian Moon’s Ice-covered North Pole

PHOTO CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
PHOTO CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Yes, the image above shows the cratered surface of a moon, but it’s not ours — it’s Saturn’s ice-covered satellite, Enceladus. NASA has received the first batch of photos Cassini captured during its flyby close to the celestial body’s north pole on October 14th.

This is the first time we’ve seen that part of Enceladus up close, as it always seemed to be engulfed in wintry darkness those previous times the spacecraft passed by. Apparently, NASA expected its surface to be heavily cratered based on the low-res images taken by Voyager decades ago. While it turns out that it is indeed cratered, we now know that it’s also covered in cobwebby cracks. “These thin cracks are ubiquitous on Enceladus,” Cassini imaging team member Paul Helfenstein said, “and now we see that they extend across the northern terrains as well.”

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SOURCE: Engadget, Mariella Moon