The Cassini mission to Saturn has returned its final close-up images of the gas giant’s Dione moon. The probe passed within 500km of the pockmarked surface on Monday – its fifth such encounter in the spacecraft’s 11-year tour of the ringed planet.
Cassini is now engaged in a series of observational “lasts”. And in 2017 it will put itself on a destructive dive into Saturn’s atmosphere.
“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, who leads the imaging team on the mission. “Right down to the last, Cassini has faithfully delivered another extraordinary set of riches. How lucky we have been.” Source: ‘Farewell’ pictures of Saturn moon Dione