Cassini, NASA’s unmanned spacecraft has got closer to Dione before and this is not the first time. But, scientists will get one last close-up look at Saturn’s fourth largest moon Dione as Cassini spacecraft makes its final flight past the moon on Monday before zooming it’s cameras for its most daring attempt.
As per NASA’s press release, the Cassini mission is a combined project of NASA, the ESA and the Italian Space Agency, under NASA’s science Mission Directorate in Washington, and managed by The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, where the spacecraft and its two cameras fitted to the spacecraft were designed.
The ambitious project launched in 1997. Cassini before settling into Saturn’s orbit had passed by Jupiter in 2004. The flyby should be a blessing to scientists, who are expecting gravity-science data to strengthen their knowledge of the moon’s internal structure and allow to make differentiation’s to Saturn’s other moons.
Cassini will also snap new images of Dione’s north pole with a distance of only a few feet, and the spacecraft’s Composite Infrared Optical device will identify areas of the moon’s surface that have the innate ability to catch heat.
This close flyby will be used by scientists to carry out a high-resolution imaging effort to capture the images of moon’s craters and it’s surface and gain an close measure of its gravitational field, revealing some more details of its inside.