This illustration depicts potential origins of methane found in the plume of gas and ice particles that sprays from Saturn's moon, Enceladus, based on research by scientists working with the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer on NASA's Cassini mission.
Enceladus: Possible Hydrothermal Activity (Artist's Concept)
This cutaway view of Saturn's moon Enceladus is an artist's rendering that depicts possible hydrothermal activity that may be taking place on and under the seafloor of the moon's subsurface ocean, based on published results from NASA's Cassini mission.
NASA's Cassini orbiter shows that Enceladus (visible in the lower-left corner of the image) is but a speck before enormous Saturn, but even a small moon can generate big waves of excitement throughout the scientific community.
What Lies Beneath: Regional View (Artist's Concept)
This artist's rendering shows a regional cross-section of the ice shell underlying Enceladus' south polar terrain, illustrating our current knowledge of the physical and thermal structure and processes ongoing below and at the surface.
What Lies Beneath: Close Up View (Artist's Concept)
This artist's rendering shows a cross-section of the ice shell immediately beneath one of Enceladus' geyser-active fractures, illustrating the physical and thermal structure and the processes ongoing below and at the surface.
On this polar stereographic map of Enceladus' south polar terrain, all 100 geysers have been plotted whose source locations have been determined in NASA's Cassini's imaging survey of the moon's geyser basin.
This plot shows the variation in brightness of the plume of material, composed of all the geysers erupting from the south polar terrain of Saturn's moon Enceladus, as a function of the moon's orbital position around Saturn.
This image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, one of those acquired in the survey conducted by the Cassini imaging science team of the geyser basin at the south pole of Enceladus, was taken as Cassini was looking across the moon's south pole.
Gravity measurements by NASA's Cassini spacecraft and Deep Space Network suggest that Saturn's moon Enceladus, which has jets of water vapor and ice gushing from its south pole, also harbors a large interior ocean beneath an ice shell.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft captures a still and partially sunlit Enceladus. The Saturnian moon is covered in ice that reflects sunlight similar to freshly fallen snow, making Enceladus one of the most reflective objects in the solar system.
Like a proud peacock displaying its tail, Enceladus shows off its beautiful plume to NASA's Cassini spacecraft's cameras. Enceladus (313 miles, or 504 kilometers across) is seen here illuminated by light reflected off Saturn.
This mosaic shows an updated global map of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus, created using images taken during flybys of NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The map incorporates new images taken during flybys in December 2011.
The brightly reflective moon Enceladus appears before Saturn's rings while the larger moon Titan looms in the distance. Jets of water ice and vapor emanating from the south pole of Enceladus (hinting at subsurface sea rich in organics).