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Cassini visits Enceladus:
New light on a bright world

(Released July 2006)

 
  by Salvatore A. Vittorio  

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In the spring of 2008, Cassini is slated for another chance to look at Enceladus, flying within some 220 miles (350 kilometers) of the satellite. The end of Cassini's "Prime Mission" is June 30, 2008, four years after arrival at Saturn. The opportunity exists for placing Cassini in "extended mission" mode-but that's only if financial resources allow.[15]

Motivated by Cassini's findings to date, attention is now turning to future observational roles of the interplanetary probe. One leading candidate is a sharper focus on astrobiology, even a "diving catch" to inspect in detail the makeup of those Enceladus plumes.[15]

"After what we've discovered with Cassini, if we don't get an extended mission, then there's no hope for anybody," said Carolyn Porco, the Cassini imaging team leader based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.[15] Cassini scientists should know around the middle of 2007 whether or not Cassini will be given official approval for an extended mission. Then, within six months to a year after that, they will learn if the money is available to proceed beyond the nominal end of the mission, in mid-2008.[15]

"In the meantime, we are planning for such an extension ... thinking about what it is we really want and need to do," said Porco recently to SPACE.com. She added, "Certainly, one of the cardinal goals of extending Cassini's tour of the Saturnian environment would be further exploration of Enceladus."[15]

© Copyright 2006, All Rights Reserved, CSA

References

  1. Enceladus (moon) Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enceladus_(moon))

  2. Planetary Rings Node Voyager Mission Description (http://pds-rings.seti.org/voyager/mission)

  3. Terrile, R. J. and Cook, A. (1981). "Enceladus: Evolution and Possible Relationship to Saturn's E-Ring". Lunar Planet. Sci. Conf. XII. Abstract 428.

  4. Rothery, David A. (1999). Satellites of the Outer Planets: Worlds in their own right. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-512555-X.

  5. Planetary Society. Cassini's Tour of the Saturn System (http://planetary.org/explore/topics/cassini_huygens/tour.html )

  6. Verbiscer, A. et al."The opposition surge of Enceladus HST observations 338-1022 nm (http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-bib_query?bibcode=
    2005Icar..173...66V&db_key=AST&high=41dad60a2f28280
    )" Icarus 173: 66-83.

  7. Enceladus (mythology) Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enceladus_(mythology)) P>
  8. Spencer, J. R. et al.(2006). "Cassini Encounters Enceladus: Background and the Discovery of a South Polar Hot Spot (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/311/5766/1401)". Science 311 (5766): 1401-1405.

  9. Than, Ker (2005). SPACE.com - Puzzling Hot Spot Found on Moon of Saturn (posted August 15, 2005). (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/050815_enceladus.html)

  10. Associated Press (2005). SPACE.com - Active Moon of Saturn Excites Astronomers (posted December 6, 2005). (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/ap_051206
    _saturn_moon.html
    )

  11. Malik, Tariq (2006). SPACE.com - Cassini Finds Signs of Liquid Water on Saturn's Moon (posted March 9, 2006). (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060309
    _cassini_water.html
    )

  12. Porco, C.C. et al. (2006). "Cassini Observes the Active South Pole of Enceladus (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/311/5766/1393)". Science 311 (5766): 1393-1401.

  13. Dougherty, M. K. et al.(2006). "Identification of a Dynamic Atmosphere at Enceladus with the Cassini Magnetometer (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/311/5766/1406)". Science 311 (5766): 1406-1409.

  14. Waite, J. H. et al. (2006). "Cassini Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer: Enceladus Plume Composition and Structure (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/311/5766/1419". Science 311 (5766): 1419-1422.

  15. David, Leonard (2006). SPACE.com - Encore For Enceladus! Saturn Moon Ripe For Astrobiology Exploration (posted April 3, 2006). (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060403
    _mystery_monday.html
    )

  16. Nimmo, F. and Pappalardo, R. T. (2006). "Diapir-induced reorientation of Saturn's moon Enceladus (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v441/
    n7093/abs/nature04821.html
    )". Nature 441: 614-616.