The Cassini orbiter snagged a gorgeous picture of Saturn’s moon Enceladus back in January of last year. Fucking stunning. Hit the jump for some details on the picture, and try to remember: this is a real moon that is really floating relatively close by. So rad.
Normally, Enceladus would appear almost purely white, but Cassini has captured the moon when it is bathed in the sunlight reflected off of Saturn’s cloud cover, which is basically the equivalent of a color filter millions of miles wide and giving the moon its healthy-looking tan. You can check out the full image of Enceladus below – click on the image for a closer look. In the meantime, here’s a NASA description of the unusual ridges and other features that scare the moon’s surface:
As most of the illumination comes from the image left, a labyrinth of ridges throws notable shadows just to the right of the image center, while the kilometer-deep canyon Labtayt Sulci is visible just below. The bright thin crescent on the far right is the only part of Enceladus directly lit by the Sun. The above image was taken last year by the robotic Cassini spacecraft during a close pass by by the enigmatic moon. Inspection of the lower part of this digitally sharpened image reveals plumes of ice crystals thought to originate in a below-surface sea.