According to NASA’s flight directorate, Cassini will have to say farewell to Enceladus. Cassini pays one last to Enceladus before being reassigned to work on other space exploration projects.
It’s been a while since Cassini was first launched in space. During this time, the scientists working for NASA have used Cassini’s high-resolution sensors in order to study many celestial structures. Cassini’s primary mission was to study Saturn in detail.
But something happened during its mission, an unexpected event that turned the tide of the space expedition. During Cassini’s flight close to Saturn, the team of scientists behind this project used this opportunity in order to study Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moon, in detail.
It was not long until something caught the probe’s eye. During the first flyby performed by Cassini, the probe has discovered some signs consisting with strong geological activity on the moon’s surface. According to several reports from NASA, the probe has visited Enceladus many times since it arrived.
On one occasion, the intrepid space explorer managed to get quite close to the moon’s surface. According to flight instruments, the space probe got within 16 miles of Enceladus’s surface. During this stunning flyby, Cassini was able to capture and document the strange underground geysers situated near Enceladus’s Southern Pole.
The geysers erupt quite violently and they even have an impressive height. From Cassini’s observations the scientists have discovered that the geysers amass so much pressure that they are able to send the jets into space.
The probe even managed to grab a water sample which will be subjected to further study in order to see if Saturn’s moon is capable of harboring life on its surface.
But now, as Cassini prepares to break orbit, the scientists have decided to assign it one last task. Cassini will have to measure the heat signatures emanating from the moon’s surface. And it seems that its task will be quite easy because Enceladus spent over a year in Saturn’s shadow. Thus, the probe will be able to distinguish between the moon’s heat and heat emanating from the Sun.
As predicted, the experiments will be conducted at the moon’s Southern Pole. The teams of scientists want to Cassini’s thermal sensors in order to study the moon’s heat activity. They are hoping of discovering more clues about the moon’s hydrothermal events.
The stakes are quite high this time because Cassini’s appraisal of the situation could help the scientists determine if Enceladus could hold life or not.