BEACON TRANSCRIPT – The Cassini spacecraft has just sent us a stunning image that reveals how Saturn’s moon Enceladus is a Frost Giant in new NASA pic.
The picture was taken on October 28th from above Enceladus’ south pole and was sent by Cassini back to NASA who published it unprocessed. Cassini is a small spacecraft, the result of joint efforts from NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. Cassini was launched in 1997 and orbited Saturn for the first time in 2004.
Enceladus is Saturn’s sixth largest moon and it has just 300 miles in diameter, a tenth of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. It was named after the mythological hero Enceladus, one of the Giants in Greek traditions, who is said to have been buried under Mount Etna in Sicily after the giants lost the war with the gods. He is believed to be the cause of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in the area, as he is trying to escape his prison.
Saturn’s moon Enceladus, however, is mostly covered by ice, which reflects almost all the sunlight, making the moon a wondrous sight to behold. It is a planet completely covered in ice, shinning bright around Saturn. It was discovered in 1789 by William Herschel.
What Cassini’s photo of Enceladus brings to us is knowledge that there is a global ocean in the moon crust. Also astronomers now believe that there is reason for hydrothermal activity, which could possibly sustain simple life. Also, Cassini has picked up on some traces of methane, nitrogen, ammonia and other molecules which we would normally associate with life and it will continue to search for evidence as it travels lower and lower towards Enceladus.
NASA expects that the closest Cassini will come to the Frost Giant will be on December 19th, when the spacecraft will try to measure the amount of heat from the moon’s interior. This will all be done from an altitude of a little over 3 000 miles.
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and it holds second place in size, after Jupiter. It is made of gas and it’s a giant compared to earth, surpassing it six times. Characteristic to the planet are its rings that surround it, composed mostly of rock, ice and space debris. Saturn has 62 moons that orbit it, of which we know so far. We have named 53 of them. The biggest one is Titan.
Image Source: www.wikipedia.org