ITHACA, N.Y., Oct. 16 (UPI) -- NASA's Cassini probe has offered the closest-yet images of the north polar region of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus. The images were captured on Wednesday, October 14, and shared online by NASA on Thursday.
Low-resolution images from the Voyager mission suggested Enceladus' north pole was littered with craters, but the new high-res imagery reveals a more varied landscape.
"The northern regions are crisscrossed by a spidery network of gossamer-thin cracks that slice through the craters," Paul Helfenstein, a scientists with the Cassini imaging team and researcher at Cornell University, said in a press release. "These thin cracks are ubiquitous on Enceladus, and now we see that they extend across the northern terrains as well."
Over the next several days, Cassini will continue to beam back new photos from its most recent flyby. Later this month, the probe will fly by the moon's south pole, descending into the plumes of ice sprayed from surface fissures.
Evidence suggests Enceladus features a salty ocean beneath its icy outer crust. During the October 28 flyby, Cassini's instruments will capture and analyze the chemical composition of the ice plumes in attempt to understand the ocean's hydrothermal characteristics.