I’m a sucker for a good space image and Cassini is delivering today. Cassini could not be in a more perfect spot for its latest image.
You’re looking at Enceladus and Tethys as they line up nearly perfectly with Cassini. What’s even cooler is the two moons are at relatively similar distances from Cassini. The apparent size of the two moons also highlights the actual size difference between the pair.
Enceladus is in the foreground and measures 313 miles across. Tethys is more than double that at 660 miles across.
Cassini was 1.3 million miles away from Enceladus when it captured the image. And 1.6 million miles away from Tethys.
What’s next for Cassini
Cassini isn’t up there just to take bad-ass pictures. There’s also a lot of science to be done. Tomorrow, the spacecraft will conduct a routine burn to keep it on its current course. On December 19, Cassini will soar past Enceladus at an altitude of 3,106 miles.
This flyby will be Cassini’s last visit to one of the solar system’s most intriguing moons. The flyby will focus on improving measurements of heat flow from Enceladus’ interior. Better understanding the moon’s heat flow will help Cassini’s mission team figure out what’s driving the geysers on the moon. Cassini’s last flyby of Enceladus will also be the last one in 2015.
They will get back started again on January 15, 2016 when the spacecraft zooms past Titan at an altitude of 2,372 miles. Cassini will be much closer to Titan again on January 31 when it’s just 870 miles above the moon’s surface. 2016 will be filled with several more close flybys of Titan. Check out Cassini’s calendar to see what else the spacecraft will be doing in 2016.