Saturn’s tiny, icy moon Enceladus has recently been visited by NASA’s Cassini orbiter on several very close approaches – once coming within a mere 25 kilometers (15 miles) of the surface. Scientists are learning a great deal about this curious little moon. Only about 500 kilometers wide (310 miles), it is very active, emitting internal heat, churning its surface, and – through cryovolcanism – ejecting masses of microscopic ice particles into Saturnian orbit. Cassini has been orbiting Saturn for over 4 years now, and has provided some amazing views of tiny Enceladus, some collected here. Another close flyby is scheduled for Halloween, October 31st. (26 photos total)
Astonishing pictures. Cryovolcanism in itself is pretty cool (argh) but Enceladus is also the most reflective moon in the solar system, if I remember correctly, and judging from those pictures I don’t doubt it. Its definitely got that classic scifi ice planet look.