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Saturn's Glorious Rings Dazzle in NASA Photo

cassini spacecraft enceladus moon may host life geysers

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#1 Hum

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 23:16

Saturn's southern reaches are draped in the shadow of the huge planet's iconic ring system in a spectacular new picture from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

The near-infrared photo, which Cassini snapped on June 15, looks toward the southern, unlit side of Saturn's rings from 14 degrees below the ringplane, researchers said. The spacecraft was about 1.8 million miles (2.9 million kilometers) from Saturn at the time; the image scale is 11 miles (17 km) per pixel.

Saturn's ice-covered moon Enceladus, which is 313 miles (504 km) wide, is visible as a tiny, bright speck in the lower lefthand corner of the image.

Many researchers regard Enceladus as one of the best bets in our solar system to host life beyond Earth. Though surface temperatures on the moon are frigid, Enceladus is believed to harbor a vast ocean of liquid water beneath its icy shell.

Enceladus also boasts huge amounts of internal heat, which power a system of geysers that erupt from the moon's south polar regions.

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Attached Images

  • Saturn's_Rings.jpg
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#2 Growled

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 02:21

That is gorgeous.