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Cassini Buzzes Saturn's Moon Dione For the Last Time

MULTIZ321

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Cassini Buzzes Saturn's Moon Dione For the Last Time - by Mike Branom/ Viva Space/ TheDailyBeast.com

"As the spacecraft nears the end of its life, it probes the secrets of Saturn's icy moon Dione for a final time.

The Cassini spacecraft has investigated Saturn, its distinctive rings and dozens of moons far longer than the experts at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory had ever hoped.

But the end of the mission is drawing near—as is the end of Cassini itself—so milestones are taking on a tone of bittersweet nostalgia.

On Monday, Cassini zips past the moon Dione for its final time. Cassini's closest approach, within 295 miles of the icy, crater-pocked surface, will occur at 2:33 p.m. EDT.

“We’ve been there four times before,” Todd Barber, the mission’s lead propulsion engineer, said Friday. “But each flyby helps unlock its mysteries.”

Information gathered by the craft’s package of instruments will be added the trove of data collected since launch in 1997. Cassini reached Saturn, a gas giant 900 million miles from Earth, in 2004..."

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NASA


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NASA Releases Incredible Closeup Images of Saturn's Moon Dione - From Fox News/ Science/ foxnews.com

"NASA has released a series of stunning images taken during the Cassini spacecraft’s last close flyby of Saturn’s moon Dione.

The images show a pockmarked landscape looming below the spacecraft. Cassini passed 295 miles above Dione’s surface at 2:33 p.m. ET on Aug. 17, its fifth close encounter with Saturn’s icy moon. The spacecraft, which has been exploring Saturn and its moons since 2004, made its closest-ever Dione flyby in Dec. 2011 when it passed within 60 miles of the moon’s surface.

"I am moved, as I know everyone else is, looking at these exquisite images of Dione's surface and crescent, and knowing that they are the last we will see of this far-off world for a very long time to come," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team lead at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado, in a statement on the NASA website. "Right down to the last, Cassini has faithfully delivered another extraordinary set of riches. How lucky we have been."..."

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This view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft looks toward Saturn's icy moon Dione, with giant Saturn and its rings in the background, just prior to the mission's final close approach to the moon on August 17, 2015. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)


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Cassini Spacecraft Dives Into Saturn Moon's Jetting Vapors - by David Perlman/ Science/ SFGATE/ m.sfgate.com

"More than 60 moons circle the ringed planet Saturn, but none is more intriguing than the tiny satellite named Enceladus, whose cracked and fissured crust is constantly erupting with violent jets of frozen water vapor that reach hundreds of miles high.

Now, after a dozen years exploring Saturn and its neighborhood more than a billion miles away, the unmanned spacecraft Cassini flew through Enceladus’ icy jets Wednesday in a final mission to learn if conditions for life might exist in the ancient salty ocean that scientists say lies beneath the moon’s frozen crust.

Carolyn Porco, the leader of the Cassini spacecraft’s imaging team and a visiting astronomer at UC Berkeley, said Tuesday that this flyby only 30 miles above the moon’s surface could mean “an encounter with the most promising place for astrobiology in the entire solar system.”

Cassini has already flown twice through the frozen vapor jets at higher altitudes, but on this final pass it sped directly into the curtain of misty ice at 19,000 miles an hour. The flyby took place at 8:22 a.m. Pacific time..."

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After Diving Deep Through Icy Geysers, Cassini Sends Images of Enceladus - by Amina Khan/ Science/ Science Now/ Los Angeles Times/ latimes.com

"Just in time for Halloween, NASA has released ghostly images of the icy geysers shooting out of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. More data taken during the Cassini spacecraft’s deepest-ever dive through the plume will be released in coming days as scientists use the spacecraft’s data to answer questions about whether, and to what extent, Enceladus is friendly to life.

The dive through the plume of water particles, organic molecules and other chemicals may have been deep, but it didn’t last very long. Researchers estimated before the flyby that the spacecraft would whiz through the plume at about 19,000 miles per hour, and that this pass would last only tens of seconds.

The images aren’t all that Cassini’s sending back. Before passing through the plume, the spacecraft was reoriented so that its gas and dust analyzing instruments would be able to capture as much data as possible. Those measurements should give researchers an even better look at what lies within the icy moon – and whether it’s a habitable environment..."

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Enceladus and Saturn's rings
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Enceladus appears to hover above Saturn's rings in this unprocessed image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.



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Are there any photos of the planet earth from this distance?
 

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NASA Just Released a Close-Up of Saturn's Moon Enceladus, Taken 30 Miles Above the Surface - by Alice Truong/ Icy World/ Quartz/ qz.com

"The Cassini spacecraft has beamed back the closest image taken yet of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, from above its south pole.

On Oct. 28, Cassini dived through the moon’s icy plume, snapping the following unprocessed photo from just 30 miles above Enceladus’s surface. Cassini—a joint project from NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency—was launched in 1997 and first entered orbit around Saturn in 2004..."

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A raw and unprocessed image from Cassini taken Oct. 28.(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)


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