Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dione and Enceladus as seen by Cassini

Dione and Enceladus as seen by Cassini
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Although Dione (near) and Enceladus (far) are composed of nearly the same materials, Enceladus has a considerably higher reflectivity than Dione. As a result, it appears brighter against the dark night sky. The surface of Enceladus (504 kilometers across) endures a constant rain of ice grains from its south polar jets. As a result, its surface is more like fresh, bright, snow than Dione's (1123 kilometers across) older, weathered surface. As clean, fresh surfaces are left exposed in space, they slowly gather dust and radiation damage and darken in a process known as "space weathering". This view looks toward the leading hemisphere of Enceladus. North on Enceladus is up and rotated 1 degree to the right. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Sept. 8, 2015. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 83,000 kilometers from Dione. Image scale is 500 meters per pixel. The distance from Enceladus was 364,000 kilometers for an image scale of 2.2 kilometers per pixel. The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Image enhancement: Jean-Baptiste Faure

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