Cassini makes 'deepest-ever dive' into Saturn's moon Enceladus
The flyby took place at approximately 8:22 a.m. PDT (11:22 a.m. EDT) on Wednesday, October 28.
Washington: NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Wednesday made a daring close flyby of Saturn's moon Enceladus, passing 30 miles (49 kilometers) just above the moon's south polar region.
According to NASA, the flyby took place at approximately 8:22 a.m. PDT (11:22 a.m. EDT) on Wednesday, October 28.
Scientists said the spacecraft is in good health after the Enceladus flyby and images are anticipated in next 24 to 48 hours.
Enceladus has produced a series of major discoveries, indicating one of the most promising places to find life beyond Earth.
“Enceladus not just an ocean world - it's a world that might provide a habitable environment for life as we know it,” said Cassini program scientist Curt Niebur, in a media briefing on Monday.
Wednesday's flyby was Cassini's deepest-ever dive through the Enceladus plume, which is thought to come from the ocean below.
Scientists are hopeful the flyby will provide insights about how much hydrothermal activity - chemistry involving rock and hot water - is occurring within Enceladus.
In December this year, Cassini will make a final visit to Enceladus where it will venture to within 5,000km of the wrinkled terrain, but thereafter it will fly no closer than 22,000km. Cassini mission comes to an end in 2017.
Launched in 1997, Cassini entered orbit around Saturn in 2004. Since then, it has been studying the huge planet, its rings, and its magnetic field.