Cassini’s Ultra-Close Flyby of Saturn Moon
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has made the closest fly of Saturn’s moon, Dione.
Caught by the Cassini image equipment – two smaller moons, Epimetheus and Prometheus, near the planet’s ring system.
How did this impressive flyby of the moon stack up overall?
This encounter was the spacecraft’s closest pass of the moon’s surface. However, because this flyby was intended primarily for other Cassini instruments, it did not yield Cassini’s best images of the natural satellite.
For you stat seekers, Dione is 698 miles, or 1,123 kilometers across.
Potato-shaped Prometheus is 53 miles, or 86 kilometers across, and appears above the rings near the center top of the image.
Epimetheus is 70 miles, or 113 kilometers across, and is on the right.
Next Encounter with a moon of Saturn is a Cassini flyby of Titan on January 30th.
Cassini was launched in October 1997 with the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe. The probe landed on Titan’s surface on Jan. 14, 2005, and returned spectacular results.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. Current plans to extend the Cassini mission through 2017 will supply a continued bounty of scientifically rewarding and majestic views of Saturn and its moons and rings
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute