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Enceladus, Saturn, 3D Stereo Fun

November 22, 2009

No, not enchilada, Enceladus.  The Cassini space probe, launched in 1997, has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004 and has returned all sorts of ridiculously crazy-detailed data and pictures of Saturn and its moons.

Epic shots during Saturn’s equinox, when the rings were nearly edge-on to the sun and height variations cast long shadows:

Planetary Society, via NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute

Earlier this month it skimmed 64 miles above Enceladus, an icy moon that gets squished by tides from Saturn and as a result has geysers that vent up through cracks on the surface:

NASA / JPL / SSI / mosaic by Emily Lakdawalla

A mosaic of a cracks, or tiger stripe – Enceladus is about the width of Arizona, and the cracks are over a mile wide (a little wider that San Andreas Lake / Crystal Springs reservoir off 280).

NASA / JPL / SSI / mosaic by Astro0,, via The Planetary Society

And here is a 3D stereo shot of the crevasse (rotated 90 degrees from the shot above):

Credit: NASA / JPL / SSI

(Sorry if you can’t cross your eyes to see the THIRD DIMENSION. On another planet, no less.)

And just so Republicans don’t think their tax dollars are wasted on a single icy planet, Cassini’s radar picked up what is believed to be methane lakes the size of Superior on Titan:

(NASA, University of Arizona, Planetary Society)


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