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The active surface jets on Enceladus collectively form a brilliant, extended plume that is made visible as sunlight scatters among the microscopic particles of ice. The plume is more easily seen with the Sun directly, or almost directly, behind Enceladus, as is the case here.
The moon’s surface is lit here by reflected light from Saturn. A faint spike of stray light from the sunlit crescent visible in PIA10498 appears just right of the moon. This image was taken as part of the same observation as PIA10498, but uses a much longer exposure, making both the plume and Saturn-lit surface easier to see.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Sept. 17, 2008. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 235,000 kilometers (146,000 miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 140 degrees. Image scale is 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) 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