Cassini to kiss Enceladus on March 12

The entire universe in blog form
March 6 2008 11:00 AM

Cassini to kiss Enceladus on March 12

In a few days, the phenomenal Saturn probe Cassini will skim just barely over the surface of the icy moon Enceladus. This is the moon that has gigantic plumes of water ice billowing out into space, the origin of which is still being argued.

The spacecraft will blow past the moon on March 12, at 19:06 UT. It'll pass just 50 kilometers (30 miles) over the southern hemisphere of Enceladus. Unfortunately, it won't take any images at closest approach -- screaming over the landscape at 9 miles per second isn't going to get you much more than blurry pictures. But it'll take plenty of images on the way in and out, and while it does so its other instruments will be busily taking data, helping Earthbound scientists figure out just what the heck that tiny moon is doing.

Advertisement

Cassini will also pass right through the ice plume (generally considered an E-ticket ride) and will hopefully return an analysis of its contents.

You can read all about this in amazing detail on the CICLOPS site. There are timelines, maps, schedules, everything you could possibly need to understand this close encounter. Actually, you should take a look at that page if only to see what incredibly detailed thinking has to go into making such a pass. It's amazing.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

There Are New Abuse Allegations Against Adrian Peterson

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

John Oliver Pleads for Scotland to Stay With the U.K.

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Jurisprudence

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police

The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.