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Cassini gets cozy with Saturn's moon, flies 30 miles above its surface


Cassini has just finished the second of three planned Enceladus flybys on October 28th, going as close at 30 miles above the surface of the icy moon's south polar region. The photo above was taken after the flyby, showing both the moon and Saturn's rings, but rest assured the probe took a lot of close-up photos. It even grabbed some of the gas and dust that erupted from one of Enceladus' geysers that typically spew water and other materials up to 125 miles into the sky. NASA will analyze those samples within the next few weeks, which should gives us more details about the composition of the moon's ocean floor, as well as about any underwater hydrothermal activity. Cassini made the first flyby this early October to take a closer look at Enceladus' north pole region. It's scheduled to make its last one on December 19th to measure the heat the moon gives of, after which it'll move on to other things for the last two years of its life.

[Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute]

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