The ice jets of Enceladus send particles streaming into space hundreds of kilometers above the south pole of this spectacularly active moon. Some of the particles escape to form the diffuse E ring around Saturn.
This color-coded image was processed to enhance faint signals, making the contours and extent of the fainter, larger-scale component of the plume easier to see.
The bright strip behind and above Enceladus (505 kilometers, 314 miles across) is the E ring, in which this intriguing body resides. The small round object at far left is a background star.
The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on March 24, 2006 at a distance of approximately 1.9 million kilometers (1.2 million miles) from Enceladus and at a Sun-Enceladus-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 162 degrees. Image scale is 11 kilometers (7 miles) 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, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org.