August 14, 2010
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has successfully completed its flyby over the "tiger stripes" in the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus and has sent back images of its passage. The spacecraft also targeted the moon Tethys.
The tiger stripes are actually giant fissures that spew jets of water vapor and organic particles hundreds of kilometers, or miles, out into space. While the winter is darkening the moon's southern hemisphere, Cassini has its own version of "night vision goggles" -- the composite infrared spectrometer instrument - to track heat even when visible light is low. It will take time for scientists to assemble the data into temperature maps of the fissures.
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 Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL.
More raw images from the Enceladus flyby, dubbed "E11," are available at: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/
Jia-Rui C. Cook 818-354-0850
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.