Saturn, its rings and their shadows are on display in this stunning image from NASA’s Cassini mission, showing dark bands across the planet’s northern hemisphere cloud tops, along with the elongated shadow of the moon Tethys near the planet’s north polar region. Other moons visible in the image include Dione (front right) and Enceladus (back right), a world that harbours a potentially habitable ocean under an icy crust. Cassini captured this view of Saturn on 6 December, 2007, at a distance of a million miles using red, green and blue spectral filters to produce a natural colour view.
Fresh off its fifth passage through a gap between Saturn’s atmosphere and rings, NASA’s robotic Cassini spacecraft is looping toward a close brush with the planet’s innermost ring next week, when the probe will again use its high-gain antenna as a shield against icy particles that may lie in its path.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has observed geysers erupting on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus since 2005, but the process that drives and sustains these eruptions has remained a mystery. Now, scientists have pinpointed a mechanism by which cyclical tidal stresses exerted by Saturn can drive Enceladus’s long-lived eruptions.