By Charlotte Alter
October 30, 2015

NASA released new photos of Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus Friday, taken when a probe flew just 30 miles above its surface.

This picture, taken in a flyby by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, is one of the closest images of the moon yet. “Cassini’s stunning images are providing us a quick look at Enceladus from this ultra-close flyby, but some of the most exciting science is yet to come,” said Linda Spilker, the project scientist for the mission, in a statement.

Cassini also took samples of ice particles and gas as it passed near Enceladus, which will be tested and analyzed for insights on the vast ocean beneath Enceladus’s surface. Scientists will be looking for evidence of hypothermic activity on the ocean floor, which could make the small moon a target of future exploration for a habitable environment outside Earth.

Write to Charlotte Alter at


Read More From TIME