Plumes of icy material extend above the southern polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus, as imaged by the Cassini spacecraft in January 2005. The monochrome view is presented along with a colour-coded image on the right. The view in this image is perpendicular to the tiger stripe fractures that straddle the south pole. Another plume view, was taken one month later and looks along the tiger stripe fractures.
Images like these are being analyzed by scientists as they seek to explain the processes that could be producing such incredible features. As reported in the journal Science on 10 March 2006, imaging scientists believe that the plumes are geysers erupting from pressurized subsurface reservoirs of liquid water above 0°C.
These images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera at a distance of approximately 209 400 kilometres from Enceladus at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 148 degrees. The image scale is about 1.3 kilometres per pixel.
The mosaic is an orthographic projection centred at 46.8 degrees south latitude, 188 degrees west longitude, and has an image scale of 67 metres per pixel. The original images ranged in resolution from 67 metres per pixel to 350 metres per pixel and were taken at distances ranging from 11 100 to 61 300 kilometres from Enceladus.