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Icy surface

Southern Enceladus

South pole geysers

A moon and rings

Not what it appears to be

Mist?

Digital Enceladus?

Shining spray

So long, Enceladus!

The Cassini spacecraft on Wednesday flew within 30 miles of Enceladus' rugged, icy exterior surface.

The close pass also took the spacecraft through a mysterious plume of liquid, ice and gas particles shooting out of the south pole of the Saturnian moon. Cassini collected samples during the pass, which scientist hope will teach us more about Enceladus and its potential habitability.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The southern hemisphere of Enceladus, taken on approach by Cassini.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini's target for the fly-by, the strange geysers shooting out of Enceladus south pole, backlit by the sun.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Enceladus drifts above the rings of Saturn, as seen by Cassini this week.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The full globe of Enceladus, believed to be an icy shell concealing a hidden global ocean.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

It's not yet clear what we're seeing in this image taken from Cassini's raw feed. Could this be what Cassini saw as it flew through the plume?

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

There looks to be some digital noise or other artifacts on this unprocessed image of Enceladus taken this week. Whatever it is, it creates an interesting effect.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Another image of the plumes, this time inverted and with some interesting glare or other visual effects going on.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Shown without its plumes visible, Enceladus hovers near the edge of the frame in this image. Scientists will continue to process the data from the close fly-by as Cassini prepares for a final, high-altitude pass in December.

Caption by / Photo by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
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