NASA's Cassini Spacecraft Captures North Pole Of Saturn's Moon Enceladus

Posted: Oct 17 2015, 5:27am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 18 2015, 4:07pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Cassini Spacecraft Captures North Pole of Saturn's Moon
NASA's Cassini spacecraft spied this tight trio of craters as it approached Saturn's icy moon Enceladus for a close flyby on Oct. 14, 2015. The craters, located at high northern latitudes, are sliced through by thin fractures -- part of a network of similar cracks that wrap around the snow-white moon. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
  • Enceladus is Beautiful to Gaze at in Flyby Pics taken by Cassini Spacecraft
  • Closest Northern Views of Saturn's Moon Enceladus

The moon of Saturn known as Enceladus is absolutely beautiful to gaze at in the flyby pics taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

NASA’s Cassini probe mission winded its way close to Saturn’s moon. Especially the north pole of the moon, Enceladus, was the site of some very close-up photographs. When the craft came within 1,142 miles of the moon, the sight was truly phenomenal.

The ice-covered satellite of Saturn is known for its volatile nature. The images that were revealed were astonishing and marvelously mystical in their totality. Enceladus is indeed an otherworldly sight to behold.

Enceladus is a small world alright. It covers roughly the same area as lies between San Francisco and Los Angeles. But the really important point to be noted is its glory and gorgeous exterior.

At least, what meets the naked eye from up close is very charming indeed. The entire outer portion consists of polished ice. The moon almost seems to be a Yuletide snowball in midair. However, it is beneath this calm and collected exterior that the nitty gritty stuff really lies.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft zoomed by Saturn's icy moon Enceladus on Oct. 14, 2015, capturing this stunning image of the moon's north pole. A companion view from the wide-angle camera (PIA20010) shows a zoomed out view of the same region for context. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Researchers have pointed to clues regarding an underground ocean on the moon. This is heated in turn by the influence of the beautiful planet that is Saturn. The presence of vast reservoirs of water place Enceladus on the same level as another moon, Europa.

Both moons may have alien life forms no matter how rudimentary on them. Thanks to a number of frozen volcanos on the surface of Enceladus, we may be able to collect samples of its water. The next things on the bucket list to be ticked off are flying close to the southern pole for a change and taking water samples.

"The northern regions are crisscrossed by a spidery network of gossamer-thin cracks that slice through the craters," said Paul Helfenstein, a member of the Cassini imaging team at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. "These thin cracks are ubiquitous on Enceladus, and now we see that they extend across the northern terrains as well."

This view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows battered terrain around the north pole of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus. Craters crowd and overlap each other, each one recording an impact in the moon's distant past. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Sometime in late October, Cassini will come to within 30 miles of the south pole of Enceladus. The ocean beneath the surface is alkaline in its chemical composition. This can be said with certainty.

But what we are not sure of is whether there are any life forms lurking somewhere beneath the smooth white icy exterior. Maybe if some of the same conditions occur within Enceladus as take place on earth, the chances will have increased for the possible existence of extra-terrestrials.

But the only problem is that even if aliens do exist, they are so different from us that detecting them would be a task in itself. Life after all, seen from a universal angle does not necessarily have to be carbon-based.

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