Search This Blog

Friday, September 30, 2011

Enceladus, Revisited

Tomorrow is a very important day.

Around 1400 UTC tomorrow (0700 PDT) NASAs Cassini spacecraft will do a flyby of the south pole of Enceladus, at an altitude of 99 km (62 miles). This is the first close flyby of Enceladus since early March 2011.

At that time we learned that the Tiger Stripes on the south pole of Enceladus were being heated by an energy source of some 15.8 gigawatts. 1.4 gigawatts is the absolute maximum Enceladus should be able to generate, for a matter of a few short seconds, if all of her potential geothermal and radioactive energy were concentrated into the same place at the same time. Tomorrow we will learn if the Tiger Stripes have cooled, or if they are maintaining this heat output at a consistent (or increasing) rate. All evidence so far indicates that the heat signature is not decreasing.

Tomorrow we'll know for sure. And things may become a lot more interesting.

You can track the Cassini/Solstice mission tomorrow here:


  1. For sake of comparison, New York City runs on about 5 gigawatts.

  2. Yeah, it's huge.

    No data yet from JPL, not sure how long before they have raw imagery up.

    Keep an eye to this site, this is where we'll see information first: