For a few seconds on Monday (Aug. 11, 2008) the diehard Cassini spacecraft skimmed only 50 kilometers (30 miles) above the surface of Saturn's little moon Enceladus, which leaped to the forefront of solar-system studies when Cassini discovered active ice geysers spraying from it in 2005. The data are streaming back, and NASA is posting the preliminary raw images.
"Cassini focused its cameras and other remote sensing instruments on Enceladus with an emphasis on the moon's south pole" says a NASA press release, "where parallel stripes or fissures dubbed 'tiger stripes' line the region. That area is of particular interest because geysers of water-ice and vapor jet out of the fissures and supply material to Saturn's E ring."
"Two more Enceladus flybys are planned for October," notes the NASA release. "The first of those will cut Monday's flyby distance in half and bring the spacecraft to a remarkable 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the surface." A resolution of 3.7 meters per pixel should be achieved.