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October 24, 2008 Permalink

Enceladus up close

Saturn's tiny, icy moon Enceladus has recently been visited by NASA's Cassini orbiter on several very close approaches - once coming within a mere 25 kilometers (15 miles) of the surface. Scientists are learning a great deal about this curious little moon. Only about 500 kilometers wide (310 miles), it is very active, emitting internal heat, churning its surface, and - through cryovolcanism - ejecting masses of microscopic ice particles into Saturnian orbit. Cassini has been orbiting Saturn for over 4 years now, and has provided some amazing views of tiny Enceladus, some collected here. Another close flyby is scheduled for Halloween, October 31st. (26 photos total)

Ring shadows line the face of distant Saturn, providing a backdrop for the brilliant, white sphere of Enceladus. This image looks toward the leading side of Enceladus. North is up. The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on June 28, 2007. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 291,000 kilometers (181,000 miles) from Enceladus. Image scale is 2 kilometers (1 mile) per pixel. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
more photos
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188 comments so far...

I love that animation (number 9). Thanks NASA

Posted by Anonymous October 24, 08 12:49 PM

Gorgeous & eerie!

Posted by TK October 24, 08 12:59 PM

Wow, thanks for letting me get my geek on. #8 looked to me like an illustration from a 50s sci-fi magazine. I hope that we here on Earth can get our minds off of politics one of these centuries and put some real effort into exploring space. Off to watch 2010 now.

Posted by Marc October 24, 08 01:01 PM

14km/sec? Nuts.

Posted by cichlisuite October 24, 08 01:01 PM


Posted by dirtymeza October 24, 08 01:17 PM

I really don't mind paying taxes to see that ! Thank you Nasa, Didier

Posted by Didier October 24, 08 01:21 PM

When and where can I buy my ticket?:)

Posted by Jim Pettit October 24, 08 01:45 PM


Posted by juhan October 24, 08 01:46 PM

Absolutely incredible

Posted by Pete Carr October 24, 08 01:48 PM

How come the closest picture is #4 at 1,288 kilometers if the Cassini orbiter came within 25 kilometers of the moon? Are they only long range cameras?

And in #16 I take it thats Saturn casting the shadow on Titan which is then forming the crescent on Enceladus? Just wondering.

Great pics as always! Love the astronomy pics you do. Mind blowing when you really think of whats out there.

Posted by Trevor D October 24, 08 01:55 PM

Awesome images!

Posted by Dani October 24, 08 02:12 PM

O, Enceladus, how I love thee.

Posted by atley October 24, 08 02:15 PM

looks like skiers managed to scatter before #20 was taken :)

Posted by Sergey October 24, 08 02:18 PM

Trevor D,

The #4 picture came from the Aug. 11 flyby, in which the orbiter came within 54 kilometers (though the shot is from farther away). The flyby that brought Cassini within 16 miles was the Oct. 9 flyby. The focus of that flyby was not to take pictures, but to sample the plumes of icy material that the orbiter flew through. The Oct. 31 close flyby will have more pictures. Those should be amazing.

Posted by John G October 24, 08 02:40 PM

Great. Now the Empire knows the location of the secret rebel base.

Posted by Han Solo October 24, 08 03:00 PM

Mini Moon!

Posted by Pete October 24, 08 03:51 PM

amazing ;O

Posted by krzysiek October 24, 08 04:35 PM

When do we get to see images like this of Iapetus?

Posted by schjlatah October 24, 08 05:11 PM

My next ski vacations... :-)

Posted by stephane October 24, 08 05:38 PM

My God! It's full of stars. I mean it's littered with ice blocks at 30 meters per pixel.

Posted by Roger October 24, 08 05:51 PM

That is absolutely heartening.

Despite all the crap happening in our tiny world, we can luckily pause and wonder at the marvels beyond our insignificant speck. May Knowledge prevail!

Posted by ekzrated October 24, 08 06:00 PM

these photos are amazing, simply amazing :)
#7 is my favourite, it's awesome

Posted by voyager October 24, 08 06:02 PM

Absolutely amazing!

Posted by Tobes October 24, 08 06:05 PM

Where's the monolith?

/2001, book

Posted by Steve October 24, 08 06:06 PM

I heartily approve of my tax money being spent as such.

Posted by Alex October 24, 08 06:08 PM

Absolutely marvelous!!!
NASA is incredible!!!

Posted by Umair Rahat October 24, 08 06:22 PM

Very cool. I wonder how long it will take for humans to be able to look out the window of a spacecraft and see some of those same views? That's assuming we don't do ourselves in with nukes, or fall back to the stone age when the oil runs out...

Posted by Bill October 24, 08 06:38 PM

interesting...why do all of the still pictures lack stars? hmmm.

Posted by observer October 24, 08 06:51 PM

just a big stone ...

Posted by Jose A. October 24, 08 07:22 PM

I havent ever seen anything this beautiful. Scientist Rock!

Posted by Lance October 24, 08 07:30 PM


"How come the closest picture is #4 at 1,288 kilometers if the Cassini orbiter came within 25 kilometers of the moon? Are they only long range cameras?"

That flyby was an imaging flyby, but bear in mind that the best view of the southern region isn't always at closest approach (which can occur too far north to really even see the south polar region). Also, at closest approach things are moving so fast that taking a picture would be nearly impossible.

"And in #16 I take it thats Saturn casting the shadow on Titan which is then forming the crescent on Enceladus? Just wondering."

Nope. We're looking toward the Sun in this view. Saturn's Shadow is much larger than Titan, so if Titan were in the shadow, it'd be dark. What you're seeing on Titan is light being bent around the moon by its atmosphere, causing the ring effect. (You can see the direct illumination better on Enceladus, which is a narrow crescent in this picture.) The original image is at

Posted by John October 24, 08 07:53 PM

21 is surreal. Def. my favorite.

Posted by Evie October 24, 08 08:05 PM

I wish they'd put some scale on those pics, is that 30m or 300m

Posted by ThePoob October 24, 08 08:21 PM

The pictures are spectacular, as usual.

and the captions are wonderfully informative - which is unusual. I am usually disappointed that the captions of your pictures add so little to our understanding of what we are seeing.

Posted by Nick Pappas October 24, 08 08:36 PM


Cassini has made it's only planned flybys of Iapetus so whatever images that are out there now are probably the best ones we'll see for quite a while. WikiCommons has some really cool ones. Here's a nice one...

Posted by MarshallDog October 24, 08 08:48 PM


Posted by jess October 24, 08 08:48 PM

unbelievable pictures. this is the most inspiring website i've ever seen. thanks boston!

Posted by evan October 24, 08 08:59 PM

These are wonderful images and wolds. Titan, now Enceladus.
But where have I seen another grand tour before... hmm... Thanks to Stanley and the boys:

Posted by Sarah October 24, 08 09:04 PM

i nerves tingle when I look at these amazing photographs.

Posted by Aaron October 24, 08 09:20 PM

Wow, this kind of thing restores my faith in humanity as a whole. Even when local and international crap is coming and going the whole time, there's still a significant core of people that keep aiming in the right direction.

Thank you scientists!!!

Posted by David October 24, 08 09:22 PM

Please, sir.... May I have Some More?

Thank you VERY MUCH for providing these.

The animation on #9 was great. I would love to see more like that. A bit blurry, but awesome.... almost like being on the probe.

Posted by Shanester October 24, 08 09:56 PM

On the #9 animation... does anyone else see a possible asteroid or other body flying by at about frame #8?

Maybe it's the beers... but I swear there's something. Perhaps another moon in the background. I would love to know what it is...

Posted by Lister October 24, 08 09:58 PM

"coming within a mere 25 kilometers (15 miles)" -- that's insane. Those guys must walk funny, considering the size of those things.
The big question is what smoothed out so much of the surface, and yet left a bunch untouched? A close fly-by of something big? Enough to warm it up through tidal friction, leading to a lot of oozing onto the surface?

Posted by Terry October 24, 08 10:20 PM

Very cool!

Posted by Gene October 24, 08 10:28 PM

i did a version of that animation (#9) as Cassini sped away from the moon.

see it at

Posted by wanderingspace October 24, 08 11:57 PM

Thank you for sharing these pictures, they are absolutely fabulous. I'm awed by nature and by how much people can achieve with science.

Posted by Andy October 25, 08 12:11 AM

Pic 21 is so surreal, and I love that it's natural color.

Great job! Looking forward to more!

Posted by Russ October 25, 08 12:12 AM

TO "LISTER": I see it too. Animation 9 does appear to have a streaking object moving Southeast away from Enceladus

Posted by Heather October 25, 08 12:40 AM

These are some of the most amazing, mind-altering pictures I've ever seen. The crater activity demonstrates just how busy the universe is-- smashing lumps of matter together across vast distance and scale, constantly changing in both the violence of magnitude, and delicacy of reach. We humans crawl amongst the valleys and mountains of such observation, and must wonder at the miracle of all. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this....

Posted by Mike Brill October 25, 08 12:48 AM

sureal and beautiful, good job guys...

Posted by ryan October 25, 08 12:50 AM

Is there any way that anyone can get prints of these images?

Posted by Jaymie October 25, 08 12:59 AM

so clean and beautiful~

Posted by joeydreamer October 25, 08 01:34 AM

Whatever you're seeing is probably one of these 2 things:
- A cosmic ray "hit" on the CCD, causing a small streak, or
- A "hot pixel" on the CCD that shows as white even when it's supposed to be black.

These raw frames haven't been processed to take out such artifacts. That said, it's still a heck of an animation! I wish they'd been able to track the moon better.

If you folks out there want to see this moon with your own eyes, come to Charlottesville, VA next spring (when Saturn is visible in the early evening's sky) on a 1st or 3rd Friday of any month and visit UVa's McCormick Observatory for the free public night. You can look through the 26" Alvan Clark refractor there and easily spy this beautiful moon.
Richard Drumm The Astronomy Bum
Charlottesville, VA

Posted by Richard B. Drumm October 25, 08 02:14 AM

That animation is amazing!

Posted by Anonymous October 25, 08 02:25 AM
Posted by aksale October 25, 08 03:14 AM

reminds you that there is something out there beyond our atmosphere

Posted by opensourcemd October 25, 08 04:30 AM

Observer wrote: "interesting...why do all of the still pictures lack stars? hmmm."

Because those pictures have a short exposure time, planets and moons are many magnitudes brighter than stars.

Posted by Matt October 25, 08 04:38 AM

this is so cool i could put it on my background! totally so cool
i love space... =D

Posted by Lavender October 25, 08 06:40 AM

These pictures are amazing! We all should feel so lucky to have a space program and dedicated astronomers working hard to help us understand our universe.

Posted by Paul October 25, 08 07:12 AM

Awesome. I always love any shots posted on this blog, but more of these kinds would be welcome!

Posted by wynnstate October 25, 08 07:38 AM

What no godspam? I'm impressed . . .

Posted by simon October 25, 08 07:41 AM

These photos are absolutely unreal! Gorgeous in every way. Time and again, the Cassini mission is proving to be money well spent.

Posted by MShades October 25, 08 07:44 AM


Posted by MARNAIL October 25, 08 08:26 AM

Caltech--wow--such a terrific photo-- 80 miles per pixel really gives one a sense of scale for #24

Posted by Alicia October 25, 08 09:17 AM

Thanks so much, once more

Posted by antuan October 25, 08 09:23 AM

These photos truly are amazing, although it makes me a little bit sad that I'll most likely die before it would be possible for someone like me to travel to these places.

I think projects like these are inherently valuable, we waste orders of magnitude more funds on useless things, both governmentally and socially, that would be better spent on social welfare. But, in my opinion, scientific research is included in social welfare in that we must understand the Earth, universe etc to improve our own conditions.

Posted by Nasser Mohieddin Abukhdeir October 25, 08 09:56 AM

Thanks for putting all these beautiful pictures together.

Posted by Chuck Parrino October 25, 08 10:10 AM

Awesome. What is the resolution of the digicam they used?

Posted by McCain October 25, 08 10:13 AM

Marnail (#63) I get tired of seeing uninformed comments like yours. The entire 50-year history of America's space program has cost us $810.459 billion. The last 7 years of Iraqi and Afghanistan warfare have cost us $604 billion. If you want to rail against something that costs a lot but gives nothing in return, you should protest the Iraq war.

NASA's budget is approximately 0.4% of the current federal budget. In return, it has given all of humanity innumerable technological spinoffs that are worth countless trillions of dollars and have enhanced all our lives.

Posted by GumbyTheCat October 25, 08 10:31 AM

What amazing photographs. Thanks for the footage NASA! It looks like something out of Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey.

Posted by Mike October 25, 08 10:53 AM

What is the surface temperature of this tiny moon of Saturn?

These images are incredible. Thanks so very much.

Posted by PWChamplin October 25, 08 11:05 AM

Thank you, Cassini and all your planners, builders and enablers. Enceladus is now my favorite Saturnian moon.

Posted by Jonnicksfader October 25, 08 11:12 AM

What amazes me is we can build robots that dance circles around the rings and moons of Saturn, but the same Government can't build a refugee trailer in New Orleans without screwing it up at twice the cost.

Posted by Choinski October 25, 08 11:20 AM

MARNAIL, if you look at how much money is spent on space exploration these days, that amount of money won't help solve those problems on earth. Besides, scientific research has many spinoffs that actually help the economy and make money for the USA. Things like poverty, hunger and war have existed for as long as people have been around. No amount of money will wipe it out. It's human nature and corrupted governments that are causing those problems. Stopping all space programs will not do a single thing to help solve these problems. The world isn't as simplistic as you seem to think.
With that said, these pictures are amazing! Very beautiful.

Posted by snarf66 October 25, 08 11:41 AM

woooow..... amazing...... mind blowing!!!

Posted by October 25, 08 01:02 PM

All I can say is....OMG!!!

Posted by Java Man October 25, 08 02:11 PM

The scientific information is very helpful to us Americans especially the children of today. To continue to cram politics down there throats is very unessential to their knowledge. People like #63 can complain about the government, but education in science is very important to our children. The other countries are far more advanced in these teachings. So if you have children share some scientific insight along with your nagging complaints of the problems that we have more or less brought upon ourselves as separate thinking citizens. Our first priority in getting this USA back is to think togetherness as Americans.

Posted by Mama Biker October 25, 08 02:25 PM

Virtually these images are so comprehensive! AMAZING! Viewing these images is highly educative of space and lighten up the Human Brains!

Posted by ALAMURU SURYA VENKATA RAMANA RAO October 25, 08 02:59 PM

Once again I will point out that the NASA space program is not a waste of money.
The entire NASA budget for 2009 will be $17.6 billion. Compare this to the military budget of $515.4 billion, this does not include Iraq and Afganistan, with $143 billion going solely to R&D, nearly 10 times the NASA budget.
Pres. Bush asked for a $3.1 TRILLION budget for 2009.
NASA's $17.6 billion is anlo .06% of the total budget. Do a little looking befor posting such stupid comments.

Posted by Mark October 25, 08 03:40 PM

As I understand it, for the the spacecraft to get a sharp picture it must pivot around its axis at precisely the right speed to compensate for its forward velocity as it passes the subject. This is something we do instinctively to take a shot of, say, a passing race car. The calculations, timing and precise control of the spacecraft to perform this ballet is amazing to me.

Posted by Robert October 25, 08 03:57 PM


Posted by Rudy October 25, 08 03:58 PM

The most amazing fact is that we are just beginning to get to know our solar system which is such an insignificant portion of the vast reaches of the universe. We have so much more to learn and seemingly so little time to do it in. Isn't it grand to be in this time in space?

Posted by Tom Warner October 25, 08 04:04 PM

Truly amazing images. Excellent job, NASA!

Posted by Dorian DeLuca October 25, 08 04:56 PM

It's interesting that one of the viewers here was wondering, suspiciously, why there were no stars visable in the pictures, reviving the rumours that these pictures were faked as were the men on the moon pictures. The answer is, of course, that the difference in light intensity makes the stars so dark they are just not visible. The light of both moons, ours and theirs, washes them out. Trust me. There is no Santa Claus and there is no outer space conspiracy. Great pictures.

Posted by Don Pointer October 25, 08 05:27 PM

If anyone was looking for a reason for any govt. to spend money on space exploration...

Posted by Paul October 25, 08 06:29 PM

Absolutely brilliant photo's. Contrary to Marnail's opinion (#63) space explorations is not a waste of money as he says. The technological spinoffs far outweigh the cost of space exploration and may solve some of the world's problems.

Posted by P R Lapham. Bristol. England. October 25, 08 06:31 PM

Dear Marnail:
You're right, all that money spent on space projects has been a total waste.
Please throw away your cell phone, your blackberry, your microwave oven, anything you own that uses velcro, your freon-free refrigerator, your iPod, and your laptop computer with wireless connection. Immediately.
Have fun hunting rabbits and cooking them on a stick over an open fire.

Posted by SanDiegoMark October 25, 08 07:57 PM

Terrific!! Go NASA!

Posted by Shelley October 25, 08 08:49 PM

How is Marnail going to start his fire and sharpen his stick?

Posted by Airborne Ranger October 25, 08 09:03 PM


Posted by R2D2 October 25, 08 09:07 PM

Well, it is difficult to express the overwhelming feelings this inspires.
I have no doubt whatsoever that there is a higher power in charge
of all creation. This just reaffirms my humble gratitude for all living
things...from the miscroscopic (in all things) to the vast, magestic
regions of continuous round of beauty and life. I am
awed by every beautiful picture that I see. Sure does make me
slow down...sit back...and alter my priorities and perspective. It
seems there are many things in life that do this. It is happening,
yet again. Love it! I, too, say "Thankyou" for the trip.

Posted by Carol J. Patey Gurr October 25, 08 10:59 PM

1. Provides jobs for nerds that would instead be addicted to WOW.
2. Gives us pictures. Thats right: PICTURES! I have yet to benefit from a picture, I'd rather have lower taxes, even if its $1.00 less (that's a coke!)
3. It's a relic of the cold-war space race. What do we need to prove anymore?
4. It's funded on the hope that we'll be living a Star Trek life one day! Sorry, but the laws of physics will keep you from ever leaving our little green planet.
5. Maybe we could colonize mars? Nope, NASA won't even colonize the moon! They'd rather let dude's muscles waste away in the ISS.
6. But we have velcro! What did we ever do without VELCRO?

Sure... we waste a lot of taxpayer money on a lot of stuff: wars, election campaigns, and supporting large numbers of "Welfare" drug habits. But that doesn't mean we should be looking to waste more money on a defunct space program.

Posted by Buzz Aldran October 25, 08 11:48 PM

Wow, it's so beautiful... This is like space porn. Did I see the Rebel Alliance's sheild generator in that close up?

Posted by space case October 26, 08 01:46 AM

I'm always disgusted by the anti-technology idiots spouting off about "wasting" money on the space program. For a SHORT list of things that have improved all our lives, directly attributable to the space program...

Again, that's a VERY short list. Things like CAT scan, angiograms, medical telemetry, the entire solar energy industry, weather prediction and storm tracking, and endless other technologies that DIRECTLY IMPROVE YOUR LIFE!

Here's a longer list, but some may question the source.

The space program is the ONLY government program that EVER paid for itself.

Posted by Paul M October 26, 08 09:16 AM

i'd echo some of the statements made earlier that its eerie yet awesome. However some of the photos looked very computerized. So i'm just curious as how scientists construct certain images, and how others look much more realistic.

Posted by freshouttatime October 26, 08 10:53 AM

It's quite incredibled and amazing! Really!
Thanks from the NASA !

Posted by Sit James Cook October 26, 08 11:55 AM


Posted by Kevin October 26, 08 12:13 PM

beautiful. took my breath away.

Posted by leo October 26, 08 01:43 PM

What a honor to see these pictures! I am so glad I have lived long enough to see them. Thank you NASA!

Posted by Barb October 26, 08 02:46 PM

Thats no's a space station!

Posted by Obi Wan October 26, 08 04:33 PM

I CONGRATULATE all involved in providing these photographs.
Scale in pixels, is fine for resolution, but a scale would be interesting.
This opens a new moon to my imagination.

Posted by Frank Philpot October 27, 08 04:29 AM

21 is so unreal..... spectacular.

Posted by TareX October 27, 08 05:36 AM

Totally sweet

Posted by mike October 27, 08 08:00 AM

The opportunity to view these images, with the underlying knowledge that so many individuals on many (sub) teams created them, is truly heartwarming and deeply touching. Imagine ions from now, when the sun is much larger, and life abounding on Enceladus, we can say now, in this time and place, that we have succeeded.

Posted by Roger Forsythe October 27, 08 10:21 AM

steve asks "Where's the monolith?", referencing the book "2001". Well, it must be on Iapetus. ;-) (Or "Japetus" as Clarke spelled it.)

observer asks why there are no stars in any of the pictures -- well, there *are* stars in a lot of the pictures; all the ones where there's a long enough exposure to capture their faint light. At least one frame of the animation in #9 shows star trails (revealing just how quickly Cassini is slewing to keep Enceladus in frame). There are stars in some other images too, but beware: many of these pictures are raw images, and have not been treated to remove stray cosmic ray hits on the CCDs. Some "stars" aren't really stars.

Posted by Calli Arcale October 27, 08 10:38 AM


You are a moron. The Nasa program is probably in the top 10 of human endevours. You also need to understand the laws of physics you quote. At our level of technology we can not, but some day we will.

Posted by Nostrdomus October 27, 08 12:01 PM

@ 28. take a photography 101 class

Posted by cja October 27, 08 02:29 PM

Fantastic photos. I could spend hours studying them. The clarity is astounding to be from such a distance.

Posted by Patsy Finley October 27, 08 02:55 PM

Absolutamente maravilloso. Me siento encelado por Encelado. Gracias!!!

Posted by M. Hernández October 27, 08 03:26 PM

Incredible, truly incredible what technology has allowed us to see.
Thanks NASA

Posted by Michael Kuster October 27, 08 04:18 PM

I remember objections here in Florida to the Cassini launch. I suppose 63 was one of them. Thank you NASA, thank you America, for sharing this with the world!

Posted by Anthony Ellison October 27, 08 05:32 PM

space is amazing!

Posted by andrew October 27, 08 11:32 PM

MARNAIL, you short sighted, narrow minded fool. Whilst it may be difficult for you to see the relevence of this and other investments in space science, the information it provides is of the highest importance to the long term future and continuation of the human race. At some point Earth WILL be hit by an object which will instigate a planetary change, and at this time, at the end of habitable life on this planet, we had better have found a way to inhabit somewhere elce. These are the baby steps the human race needs to take in order to make this possible, and secure the future of the species. Whilst things could be made better, here, now, what is the point of making them so, when the outcome is inevitable oblivion. It may be a very long time off, but does that make it any less important, or should we just hope someone elce will do it? Think of the present if you must, but with it you sacrifice the future.

Posted by Shedlock2000 October 28, 08 12:42 AM

Amazing!!!! Beautiful, and interlectual!!

Posted by Iris October 28, 08 10:14 AM

Breathtaking ... it brings on the stark realization that we are a fortunate lot to exist in such a way that enables us to see what we are a part of. Makes me wonder if we are part of a plan or a serendipitous element in the ever-evolving Universal chaos of Natural Deletion (and if we're alone in that quest). Science rules ... thank you.

Posted by Don Ciccone October 28, 08 11:34 AM

amazing what mann can do

Posted by Anonymous October 28, 08 02:24 PM

#92: " 4. It's funded on the hope that we'll be living a Star Trek life one day! Sorry, but the laws of physics will keep you from ever leaving our little green planet."

Might I direct your attention here?

Posted by TheUniversal October 29, 08 02:50 AM

Yeha..just a big stone. And by showing these amazing stone pics those poor scientist try to make us believe that have done something important and need more money to get even better pictures...maybe next sad american house loans could be used for this..

Posted by my name October 29, 08 07:54 AM

all these pics are very pretty but I need one of SATURN not the moon but I enjoied looking at them and reading about them

Posted by ashley sollock October 29, 08 10:29 AM

"1. Provides jobs for nerds that would instead be addicted to WOW."

No. The value of jobs created through NASA programs is not in entertaining geeks but in increasing American aerospace engineering expertise. Time was, if anybody wanted to launch a commercial satellite, they had to pay an American company (eg. Boeing, Lockheed) to do it. But as we have rested on our laurels, trusting that we have the technological lead in aerospace, other countries have not been so complacent. Ariane, RSC Energia, and RSC Khrunichev are big players, and they will outcompete us if we're not careful.

I am not afraid of other countries putting men on the moon or anything like that. The more the merrier, I say! So we don't need a space race. But at the same time, can we really afford to let other countries pass us up technologically? India, a growing player in the aerospace industry, has just launched a lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan 1. I think that's wonderful. But it means we have competition in the industrial sector. I for one do not want to see more high-tech jobs leaving this country because folks didn't want to invest in them and preferred to stay at our 1990 technology levels.

"2. Gives us pictures. Thats right: PICTURES! I have yet to benefit from a picture, I'd rather have lower taxes, even if its $1.00 less (that's a coke!)"

Cassini is returning so much more than pictures. The pictures are awesomely majestic, but the real benefit is in the scientific data. You'd be surprised what you can learn from studying the universe. And it's information that could save us as a species in a few centuries, when the time comes to colonize other worlds.

"3. It's a relic of the cold-war space race. What do we need to prove anymore?"

Nothing, at least on the political level, in my opinion. But science is valuable for its own sake, and the technology developed through a space program is extraordinarily valuble in terms of advancing the state of the art. Forget velcro. The real payoff comes in the engineering know-how that accumulates in the aerospace industry. Do you know just how much engineering goes into a commercial commsat? How about airport runway safety systems? Turbofan blades? De-icing systems? America is losing the lead in many of these areas. Thanks to a concerted effort to push our capabilities on the part of NASA, we still enjoy a considerable lead in space engineering, which is far more important than a lot of people realize. But the lead is shrinking. American companies are starting to outsource launch services. How long before they start buying satellite busses and spacecraft computers abroad as well? Do we really want to see more jobs going overseas?

It takes government investment to build a really strong aerospace industry. In most countries, the lion's share of this funding comes from the military. America is unique for having such a large *civilian* investment in the industry, in the form of NASA. Let's not throw that away.

"4. It's funded on the hope that we'll be living a Star Trek life one day! Sorry, but the laws of physics will keep you from ever leaving our little green planet."

What makes you so sure? The laws of physics don't prevent leaving Earth. They merely tell us how much effort is required to acheive it. Someday, we will have to leave Earth, or face the reality of massive overpopulation.

Oh, and Earth is mostly blue, not green.

"5. Maybe we could colonize mars? Nope, NASA won't even colonize the moon! They'd rather let dude's muscles waste away in the ISS."

So.....spaceflight is pointless and it's not possible to leave Earth, but you'd rather NASA colonize Mars than keep the ISS going? The ISS is valuable; a lot of research happens there, but most significantly, it is building the industrial infrastructure neccesary for lunar and, eventually, Martian colonization. You can't just say "I'm gonna buy me a Mars ship!" and do it. There's no company that builds them. So if you want to colonize Mars, your first step has to be to build an industry that can build Mars ships. The ISS has definitely increased the engineering capacity and the state of the art for human spaceflight in the US. In my opinion, that is the most important contribution it makes.

It *also* enables serious and very important research on the effects of long-duration spaceflight. Now, the Russians established years ago just how significant muscle wasting is, but they still haven't perfected means of coping with it. Right now, we don't know how to keep astronauts in sufficiently good condition that they'd be fit for Martian exploration after a six-month cruise. We're getting a lot closer, but it's really a tough nut to crack. As a side benefit, the research is also benefiting people on Earth with degenerative disorders or who are bedridden. The osteoporosis drug Boniva came out of NASA-sponsored research to try to find a drug that would counteract the bone wasting that occurs in space.

And that's not all that's happening up there, either. They're doing other scientific work too. The newly arrived ISS crew will soon be receiving a water recycling system (to be delivered by Endeavour in a few weeks). Right now, the ISS relies on regular resupply, and water is one of the big consumables. (They use it for oxygen generation, drinking water, food preparation, and cleaning.) This is one of the major stumbling blocks facing any Mars exploration. It needs to be solved before we can go to Mars, and cancelling all manned space exploration will definitely not help.

Other experiments range from crystal growth (which isn't just about aesthetics; protein crystals grown in space exhibit different properties which is extremely valuable for medical research), cell cultures (turns out, tumor cells cultured on orbit grow more like ones inside the body than ones grown in a petri dish on Earth, which is hugely valuable for cancer research), plant growth (again, vitally important if you ever want to go to Mars), embryology, fluid dynamics (which has applications practically everywhere), and so on. There are more applications to space research than most people realize, but you have to get into some seriously dry reading to find out about it, because the scientists in charge of these experiments aren't generally big on blowing their own horns.

"6. But we have velcro! What did we ever do without VELCRO?"

Again, Velcro is the least of it. If you can't see past Velcro, then you really don't understand what the space program is good for.

Posted by Calli Arcale October 29, 08 11:07 AM

#119 You can look at Saturn images to your heart's content here:

Now, think about this: you have an object the size of a bus moving at 14.4 km/sec that you have to reposition throughout its flight to point different instruments at whatever you're observing. Oh yeah, and you manage to come within less than 52 km of Enceladus AND fly through a plume of ice particles (which BTW you've done more than once already). One more thing -- you pass by TItan from time to time to change your orbit so you don't waste fuel. Wow!

Posted by QuarkSpin October 29, 08 02:15 PM

@Jaymie (#51)

It may take some DIY legwork, but according to NASA/JPL, you're allowed to use the original images pretty much however you wish:

"JPL Image Use Policy - Unless otherwise noted, images and video on JPL public web sites (public sites ending with a address) may be used for any purpose without prior permission, subject to the special cases noted below. Publishers who wish to have authorization may print this page and retain it for their records; JPL does not issue image permissions on an image by image basis."

So you should be able to dig up the full-res image(s) you want from the NASA/JPL site:

and have it/them printed whereever you'd like.

Posted by gary October 29, 08 04:06 PM

Kiitos teille kaikille,jotka edesautoitte näiden kuvien saamiseksi.

Posted by TIMO NUMMELA NOKIA FINLAND October 29, 08 04:36 PM

Vau todella hienoja kuvia, ihastuin itse eniten siihen kuvaan jossa oli sinistä väriä mukana.
Todella upeita, näitä on ilo katsella

Posted by Inkku October 30, 08 02:14 AM

Absolutely stunning and eerily fascinating pictures of Enceladus. Obviously, a very interesting body with much to engender future study by our friends at JPL. Perhaps they could now concentrate on a LEO satellite that could observe Ms. A. Waldman on her cupcake foraging expeditions. Make mine with extra sprinkles and a Swedish Fish or two. I need the Omega 3 oils from those cold leetle fishies.

Posted by Robert Mills October 30, 08 03:57 AM

According to the U.S. Constitution, one of the Vice-President's duties is to serve as Chairman of the Board of NASA.
Can you imagine Sarah Palin as Chairman of the Board of NASA?
She'd better start brushing up on her rocket science. : )

Posted by DingoDave October 30, 08 05:00 AM

Muito show, legal pra caralho!

Posted by marcos October 30, 08 08:08 AM

Well done Calli Arcale for an excellent post. Well informed and well argued unlike a lot posts on this subject.

Humanity must also advance in parallel with attempts to solve the world's problems. We can't fix one at a time.

One day a situation will present itself where leaving the planet is the only option and people will be looking to NASA for the answers. Potential incidents include global warming, over population, radiation from the sun, etc. Anyone seen Wall-E?

The fact is that humanity must progress. We currently have all our eggs in one basket and that's not good for humanity. Photographs like this only confirm to me the power of humanity and what it can achieve, yet out efforts are very much still in their infancy. It's inevitable that one day we will leave this planet and inhabit new planets and moons. The fantastic work being done by NASA is merely our first steps. There's water on Enceladus, isn't that worth checking out?

My only disappointment is that not enough money is being invested contrasted to other expenditures. It was 1969, 50 years ago, that NASA captured the imagination of the world. Truly uniting humanity as one organism. Urging success for Armstrong, Aldrin and Jackson in their quest for all of us. It united the world and for a brief moment, everything was alright and good in the world. I can't help feel that we need another one of those to get a bit or perspective. Today's political and financial climate looks like that might now happen but the danger is that we'll descend into a downward spiral and never come out if spending is cut. I'd like to hear comment on that subject.

It seems a little late in the day to not be on Mars yet. I have watched the documentaries on the huge challenges that lie ahead for such a project, but 50 years in todays technological acceleration seems slow. Anyone that is a naysayer to Space exploration is very shortsighted and if the world was run by those people we'd still be on horseback. Humanity has a long way to go yet and NASA are one of the good guys who can help take us there.

What did Velcro ever do for us? It's like glue without the stickiness. Come on, that's easy.


Posted by Chris Maclean October 30, 08 08:20 AM

#121 (Followup) If you'd like to take a virtual ride with Cassini during one of its encounters, check out the CASSIE software. It can be found here:

Posted by QuarkSpin October 30, 08 02:17 PM

Calli has some very relevent points, the world or even for that matter the universe is evolving and the natural resources of the Earth cannot be sustained at this rate so of course we are going to need organisations like NASA to investigate the universe.

What is Millions if not Billions of dollars compared to the slow demise of the human race without anywhere to go to? If NASA wasn't investigating the universe then we would no idea if we could leave this ever dying planet.

So of course NASA needs funding, i mean it will surely one day save the human race from demise... Unless you want that to happen...

Posted by Andy Shaw October 30, 08 03:06 PM

#126, I want some of whatever you smoked, drank, or ate in order to find that in the US Constitution.

Posted by Jay Manifold October 30, 08 06:10 PM

Thanks very much for the pictures. You've made a wonderful selection.

However, some of us would like to obtain the originals (if available) for our own use because the originals are often available in higher resolution. Could you please provide picture IDs or some other information that we could use to find the images on NASA's site (or whatever organization produced them)?

Thanks again for the pictures.

Posted by Jim C. October 31, 08 05:56 PM

Merci d'offrir à tous ces fabuleux spectacles.
J'aime l'idée que cette mission rend hommage à un compatriote

Posted by gerard arlic November 1, 08 05:38 AM

When we stop looking up, we stop growing.

Posted by Stickmaker November 2, 08 09:28 AM

These pictures are awesome. Thank god there are people on this planet disciplined enough to want to discover what is around us. Sooner or later, they will discover that we cannot be alone in the vastness we call space.

Posted by ALan C November 2, 08 06:50 PM

Umm... Buzz? ... (Comment #97) I can see that you have no use for anything involving space... but if all of your eggs are in our one little Earth basket, perhaps you should learn a little about it. The planet, the one YOU live on, is referred to as "The Blue Planet," not green. Because... well,,, because of all of the WATER here. W-A-T-E-R... B-L-U-E... get it? Perhaps you were thinking of space as in "little green men from Mars" or something. Still... that's not Earth.

Posted by Sunny November 2, 08 08:41 PM

Add #92
I don't see the point why should we argue about usefulness of bringing something new (knowledge, discovery, invention) to the existence to somebody who cares more about his coke. If he thinks that it is better to eat good meals, drink good drinks and raise children same ignorant as we are, it is his right. We should give him his coke if he is good citizen and let him to push the wheels of the world so that people who have the visions can use the power (although unfortunately most of the power will be spent by people same ignorant, I believe there will always be something left for people with dreams). New thinks are always useful, at least it is fun. And I really do believe it is better kind of fun than the old drinks, steaks, beaches or porn for which mankind spends vastly more money.

PS: Thanks NASA for all the fun we got from you !!!!

Posted by Martin Cizek November 3, 08 04:09 AM

I like this stuff....................

Posted by Bob Spurlock November 3, 08 05:24 PM


Posted by zach1991 November 4, 08 11:14 PM

Wonderful. Thanks NASA

Posted by Joop Simons November 5, 08 04:14 PM

i was half expecting number 18 to be a human/alien footprint :)

Posted by Mos November 6, 08 07:13 AM

your so brave! u did 2 go in outer space

Posted by Anonymous November 8, 08 09:05 AM

To Lister, Heather, and Richard B Drumm:
Although I do agree that both of your hypothesis are possible, Mr. Drumm. I have to disagree with both in regards to these two photos (#'s 8+9). If I am looking at the same objects that Lister and Heather are seeing, I would say that they are merely distant stars that are bright enough to be seen even with the filtering and sun's light. Much like you can occasionally see a star in the dawn or dusk in our own night skies. Although I admit that I may not be seeing the actual object in question.

Posted by Andrew November 9, 08 04:35 PM

Just what we need today. Here we are in an economic House of Crap and we have these photos to show what it'll all turn out to be after the sky falls in on us. Boy am I motivated.

Posted by Lloyd Evans November 10, 08 10:06 AM


Posted by AlfSparrow November 11, 08 08:22 AM

Incredibly awe inspiring, beautiful, and moving...

Posted by Barbara November 11, 08 08:36 PM

I would say that # 8, 12, 19, 22 and 25 were REALLY interesting. (AMAZING, AND COOL!!!!!!!)

Posted by Candy Joy C. November 13, 08 07:45 PM

That's perfect! really perfect! Excellent!
I don't know what to name it!
That was really great. Hope to see some such this!

Posted by Mohamad rajaei November 16, 08 05:26 AM

Hey ..... what is your name ????????????

Posted by Lavel November 17, 08 04:37 PM

Amazing images! As an astronomer and artist all my life, I find this as something that we knew all along; that our solar system, particularly Saturn but possibly the entie universe must have so much waiting for us to discover. Why would anyone ever place a monetary value on life as we know it? That life is within us and without us throughout the universe. It is all-encompassing and we are a part of it all. It is obviously undeniable that we are a part of this all.
We are at home in the universe!
Mark Seibold- Artist- Astronomer

Posted by Mark Seibold November 19, 08 03:51 PM

#92 cracks me up! Yea right, lets give up NASA so we can all have an extra Coke. What a bargain! Lets trade in 50 years worth of science and technology progress so we can all get a little extra caffine and sugar buzz before we have to run to the bathroom to piss it away.

Posted by Paul Wilson November 20, 08 05:32 PM

Let's just feel sorry for Marnail (#63) and Buzz Aldran (#92) for lacking an appreciation of what the Cassini people have achieved.

As for Dingo Dave (#126), it makes me sad to think that, as suggested by his nom de keyboard, he is an Australian, as am I.

Posted by Kevin Anfruns November 20, 08 09:02 PM

Pretty.... Looks alot different compared to other views in my imagination about Saturn *Cough Macross Cough*. one question though. that moon keeps spewing gas and material into the rings, right? what happens when the moon expends all that material? or is that one of those dumb 'it'll never happen for several... oh... milenia deals?

Posted by Pensive's Wetness November 23, 08 10:42 PM

Those of you not impressed by space efforts of all the world, just crawl back into your caves and scratch on the walls. Yes, I'm talking to you, #92 and if you think the cold war is over, just read the paper-Venezuela, etc. I just hope we develop leaders like those of the 60s,70 and 80s to keep it cold.

Keep your sights high, NASA--most of us appreciate your work.
Hugh C. in Virginia

Posted by Hugh C. Wyatt December 9, 08 08:06 PM

Obi Wan (#100) wrote:
Thats no's a space station!
Obi Wan would be interested in seeing photos of another of Saturn's moons, Mimas. Mimas's most striking feature is the Herschel Crater, which makes the moon look very much like the Deathstar in some photos.

Posted by Old Man December 19, 08 05:23 PM

An interactiv journy around solar system with cassini help me to think about future
some day in future maybe my neohew will walk around Enceladus's gysers.
Thanks for human activities.

Posted by MOHAMMED ALI GOURAN MOHIT December 29, 08 02:02 AM

All I know is I was 7 when they walked on the moon and I saw it on a crappy black and white tv set and now I am able to appreciate the magnificence of it all at my crappy computer!

Posted by wendy December 31, 08 06:55 AM

wow that is very cool and breathtaking. I love science and just looking at these pictures my heart started bouncing and i was so happy to see them. I can spend hours looking at these beautifl pictures and one day i would like to see them myself because i want to be an astronaut. This is beautiful.NASA keep doing a great job cause you guys are perfrct and get the best information. GO NASA!!!!!!

Posted by Pamela January 7, 09 08:53 PM

looks like a good place for a level in mechwarrior 5

Posted by rocket man January 11, 09 07:57 PM

To #120. Thank you. You're words are wonderful.

Posted by Maria January 16, 09 11:39 AM

this is so cool. i am really into space and everything it has to offer.

Posted by Ally January 17, 09 11:18 PM

this is cool i can't belive this are rely pictures

Posted by gg February 26, 09 06:48 PM

Has anyone considered that the cryovolcanism seen on Enceladus could be due to a glancing blow by a large comet / asteriod impact a few hundred thousand or millions of years ago?
This could have melted most of the crust and mantle in the south polar region leaving no sign of impact cratering due to melting that has since re-solidified at the surface and still remains liquid water below the surface today. The "Tiger" stripes could then have formed after the impact and crustal re-freezing due to tectonic forces below the surface.

The Saturnian moons Mimas has a large impact crater as does Tethys (Impact crater Odysseus ~400km across).

Posted by Gary ; UK March 4, 09 08:57 AM

Superb such images, and to think that this small world could bring, years in the future, a home for human with abundant water and internal supply of heat to live and protect.
Maybe one of my children will close to see and amazling touch this beatifull surface.

Posted by Alvimar Lousada March 25, 09 02:20 PM

resonating enchantment permiates all demensional mass
ephemeral waves traverse time accurance wonderous magic event flows thrue probable quantum elements. non event clouds burst tendrils of flashdrops ciphering celestial groups for tranciation. layline wisps weave waves of wonderous magic non-eventmass with a quantum probability of zero!
wonderfullworld ofmagicand magical wonderfull worldof magicwonderfull!!!

Posted by XSIS DRAKEN March 27, 09 06:50 AM

That is simply beautiful! I just love the idea that it is all there - now. Oh for a Tardis. But... are those all craters? If it's hot at the centre isn't that heat trying to escape? Go and make a blanc mange and watch what happens - and I do know that the Moon is not made of cheese.

Posted by Alan Robert Moore March 27, 09 07:54 AM

Based on the description, image 25 is flipped horizontally.

Posted by Mortar April 23, 09 10:03 PM

i love you'r web site!!!!!!!!!! this is one of the coolest web site i was looking at some comments and some of them are really mean and nastey so if you'll could chill that would be cool..................But ones again i love your web site


Posted by amber May 18, 09 11:58 AM


Posted by len May 18, 09 01:26 PM

Very nice site!

Posted by John821 May 22, 09 02:15 PM

we appreciate your work.wonderfull

Posted by schott,Gerd Lutz May 28, 09 08:24 AM

now, if we could only figure out a way to tow that sucker and get it to orbit earth, lol.

Posted by Manuel June 15, 09 11:03 PM

I don't understand, is this found in the ocean?

Posted by bob smith June 26, 09 09:35 AM

Thousands of years before man made a simple primitive boat and sailed into sea to reach the islands nearby, exploring them to find life on them. The present space technology though is advanced a lot, but is of similar standard of reaching a nearby planet through primitive spacecraft. It would take a lot of time before any spaceborm Christopher Columbus to sail his space ship finding a new world in the space. Wish God, it happens soon.

Posted by Achal Doonga June 27, 09 06:15 AM

why no higher res pics

Posted by Anonymous August 4, 09 07:33 PM


Posted by furkaaaaaan August 6, 09 05:09 AM

that was so good so i love it

Posted by 2ekheffrer August 16, 09 05:11 AM

It looks like the Death Star!

Posted by Rawr August 18, 09 07:07 PM

muito lindo as fotos.

Parabens para quem as tirou, realmente oque o mundo tem é magnifico , Deus faz tudo perfeito.

Eu so não intendi oque esta escrito , porque ainda não sei falar em ingles ,

Abraços , ..

Posted by Fábio August 28, 09 10:48 AM

perfectism naturally

Posted by Thiago Zoroastro December 11, 09 11:42 AM

truly amazing, stupendous, mind boggling, space is so awesome totaly out of this world.!!! keep up the good work Nasa.

Posted by michael zane bryant January 12, 10 07:50 AM

I think its a shame the Obama administration wants to cut many Nasa programs and have our astronauts fly commercial. We need to contime to expand knowledge in all scientific areas and proceed to learn more about space and our solar system. Russia still has an active interest in Outer Space as does CHina and other nations. We need to stimulate the minds of our inventors to continue in the track of new discovery. Where would Direct Tv and The Dish Network be without all these tech discoveries. How about cell phone,microwave and weather tracking and climate change discoveries without Nasa.
In America we can be proud of our Space program and scientific strides. Im sure most people who complain about the cost wouldnt even give a dime of there money for anything but themselves anyway. These people are so tight they pinch a buffalo off the nickle. Lets stay on the edge of technology so we can protect our country from those who would destroy
We made more progress in the sixties when preople took pride in there country and had some feeling about there country, YOur country isnt about how much free lunch you can get but pride and patriotisim.


Posted by W Michaelsen February 9, 10 12:16 AM


Posted by Anonymous March 9, 10 02:23 PM

Mankind has deeply recessed in our core a limitless curiosity about things. We explore and by doing so we increase our knowledge and any increase no matter how small that gives us a better understanding of how this universe works. That desire for knowledge can not and must not be limited by such petty excuses as cost in money or the grumblings of those timid and useless minds who doubt its usefulness or have not the drive to boldly go into that great venture.

Posted by Anarimus December 22, 10 02:53 PM

Amazing posting, well written I must say.

Posted by Penney Ainley January 27, 11 06:04 PM

.... here and so ... ..

Posted by Unjummajainee March 20, 11 08:41 AM

i agree with comment 185, the brief description below each image is very informative...
amazing pics...

Posted by Leena, Dominic April 14, 11 05:05 AM

These photos are great!!!

Posted by Anonymous April 17, 11 09:26 PM
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