September 23, 2013
Enceladus's unusual plume is only easily visible when the Cassini spacecraft and the Sun are on opposite sides of Enceladus. So what's lighting up the moon then? It's light reflected off Saturn. This lighting trick allows the Cassini spacecraft to capture both the back-lit plume and the surface of Enceladus in one shot.
This view looks toward the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Enceladus. North on Enceladus is up. The image was taken in blue light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 2, 2013.
The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 517,000 miles (832,000 kilometers) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 175 degrees. Image scale is 3 miles (5 kilometers) per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute