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Enceladus appears as a rather bland orb in this far-off snapshot, but the dark markings near its south pole belie that assumption. The markings, called sulci, are long, roughly parallel fractures from which a spray of icy particles escapes into the void, forming Saturn’s E ring.
This view looks toward the Saturn-facing hemisphere on Enceladus (505 kilometers, or 314 miles across). North is up.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 27, 2007 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 930 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 615,000 kilometers (382,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 3 degrees. Image scale is 4 kilometers (2 miles) 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, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute