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SCIENCE FILE / Science in Brief

Saturn moon flyby may damage craft

August 25, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Grains of ice or particles of space dust could significantly damage the Cassini spacecraft when it passes near Saturn's moon Enceladus in March, scientists said Thursday.

Images beamed to Earth from Cassini in 2005 showed jets emanating from the moon's south polar region that scientists suspect arise from warm fractures, known as tiger stripes.

Cassini will pass Enceladus at an altitude of less than 62 miles, perhaps moving through some of the spray, which some scientists believe may be made water. But the odds of significant damage are only 1 in 500, they said.

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