Flyby of Dione yields stunning pictures of icy Saturn moon

Dione and Saturn's rings, as photographed by Cassini

FINAL APPROACH The Cassini spacecraft took this picture of Dione, with Saturn’s rings in the background, as it sped toward the moon for the last time.

JPL-Caltech/NASA, Space Science Institute

Bye bye, Dione. The Cassini spacecraft visited the icy moon of Saturn for the last time on August 17 and sent back a few postcards from its visit. From a distance of 474 kilometers, Cassini got a good look at the rolling, cratered landscape and captured a few stunning images of Dione floating against a backdrop of Saturn’s rings.

Previous flybys found that one side of the moon is etched by a network of ice cliffs, some of which are several hundred meters. The spacecraft was actually swinging by to measure Dione’s gravity, which will help researchers figure out what the interior of the moon is like. Cassini’s next stop is Titan on September 28. 

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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