This is an extraordinary time-lapse animation from the viewpoint of Saturn's moon Enceladus. We'll add some context below, but let's get right to the video.
(If you are having difficulty viewing in full screen, click here.)
Here is some background on Enceladus from Wikipedia:
Enceladus is the sixth-largest moon of Saturn. It is about 500 kilometers (310 miles) in diameter, about a tenth of that of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Enceladus is mostly covered by fresh, clean ice, making it one of the most reflective bodies of the Solar System. Consequently, its surface temperature at noon only reaches −198 °C (−324 °F), far colder than a light-absorbing body would be. Despite its small size, Enceladus has a wide range of surface features, ranging from old, heavily cratered regions to young, tectonically deformed terrains.
So that brings us up to speed on some specs, but because this video shows us the animation from the standpoint of Enceladus' orbit around Saturn, let's consult Wikipedia again for a little more about that.
Enceladus is one of the major inner satellites of Saturn along with Dione, Tethys, and Mimas. It orbits at 238,000 km from Saturn's center and 180,000 km from its cloud tops, between the orbits of Mimas and Tethys. It orbits Saturn every 32.9 hours, fast enough for its motion to be observed over a single night of observation. Enceladus orbits within the densest part of Saturn's E ring, the outermost of its major rings, and is the main source of the ring's material composition.
Like most of Saturn's larger satellites, Enceladus rotates synchronously with its orbital period, keeping one face pointed toward Saturn. Unlike Earth's Moon, Enceladus does not appear to librate more than 1.5° about its spin axis.
For clarification, libration involves the oscillation of the moon as parts near the edge—that are often not visible from the planet being orbited—sometimes come into view. So essentially, Enceladus librates similarly, but not as strongly, to the way the Earth's moon does, with the dark side of the moon remaining unseeable from the planet.
So there's a little background. For the most part, we just wanted to share the fabulous video. We hope you enjoyed it.
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