Cassini Images of the Fountains of Enceladus

Carolyn Porco is an amazing person whose eyes have seen the distant visions of the universe. She is the leader of the Imaging Science Team on the Cassini mission presently orbiting Saturn, and a lead imaging scientist on the New Horizons Pluto/Kuiper Belt mission to be launched in early 2006.

I met Carolyn at this year's PopTech conference, where I had the pleasure of illustrating her story of humankind's travel to Saturn and her surrounding moons [see painting].

She sends us this message of geologic activity in the outer solar system.
November 28, 2005
When, what to our wondering eyes should appear....

In one of the most thrilling moments we have enjoyed in a mission filled with thrilling moments, fountain-like plumes of small icy particles emanating from the south polar region of Enceladus have been seen in recently acquired Cassini images of the small Saturnian moon.

These spectacular images reveal in glorious detail an array of individual jets close to the surface, as well as the enormous and faint plume of material extending far above Enceladus. Not since Voyager's discovery of volcanoes on Jupiter's moon, Io, and geysers on Neptune's moon, Triton, have we seen such fabulous visual evidence of present-day geologic activity in the outer solar system.

Visit http://ciclops.org to see for yourself.


Porco is a veteran imaging scientist of the Voyager mission to the outer solar system in the 1980's. She received her PhD in 1983 from the California Institute of Technology.

Carolyn is the Director of the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations (CICLOPS) at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, where Cassini images are collected, processed and released to the public, and an Adjunct Professor at both the University of Colorado and the University of Arizona. She is also the CEO of Diamond Sky Productions, a small company devoted to the scientific, as well as artful, use of planetary images and computer graphics for the presentation of science to the public.