Ok, it’s not steam but ice….but you get the idea!
Literally just in from the imaging center, this raw image shows us a crescent-lit Enceladus as it sprays its water-ice jets out into space, surrounding itself – and Saturn! – with the diffuse E-ring. Surrounding Saturn like a hazy doughnut beyond the main rings at a distance of 110,000 miles (that’s about halfway from the Earth to the Moon), the E-ring is made up of particles sprayed out from Enceladus and is nearly 200,000 miles wide. This little moon has been at it for quite some time!
I rotated the image 180º from the original (so the moon’s south pole is down, as we humans like to see it) and plucked out some dust bits and hot pixels in Photoshop but otherwise it’s an untouched image.
Remind me again why I love Cassini? Oh yeah, because of images like this. 🙂
This was a nice one too, normally images of Enceladus’ south pole don’t have another moon passing by in the distance! But here we see Mimas drifting by, with what seems to be some reflected light from Enceladus illuminating its night side. Which makes sense since being nearly all ice Enceladus is the most reflective body in the solar system!
Image: NASA / JPL / SSI.