Feeds

Enceladus' icy threat to Cassini

Sandblaster effect

Build a business case: developing custom apps

The Cassini spacecraft could be at risk of damage when it makes its next closest approach to the moon Enceladus.

Mission managers have warned that the larger particles of dust and ice emanating from the southern pole of Enceladus pose a real threat to the craft.

Enceladus, and all that dust. Credit: Ciclops

Enceladus, and all that dust. Credit: Ciclops

The craft is due to pass the Moon next March, when it is scheduled to take a closer look at the jets of material. It might even pass directly through the jets.

Analysis of data from the last fly by, back in 2005, suggests that the average particle in the plumes is much much smaller than anything that could damage the craft. But researchers are now working to determine whether or not the pressure of the jets would be sufficient to throw larger particles into the path of the spacecraft.

Larry Esposito, a researcher at the University of Colorado, told Reuters: "These plumes were only discovered two years ago and we are just beginning to understand the mechanisms that cause them. A grain of ice or dust less than two millimetres across could cause significant damage to the Cassini spacecraft if it impacted with a sensitive area."

Speaking at the European Planetary Science Congress in Potsdam, Germany, Esposito said calculations suggested the chance of a dangerous collision was about one in 500. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.