The probe had an unprecedented view of the Dione’s cratered surface, when it was at a distance of only 321 miles which is one of the closest approaches. This is the fourth flyby by the spacecraft, and this is not the closest. The third flyby in December 2011 was the closest flyby, where the probe descended onto the moon’s terrain at a mere 62 miles.
The image sent by the probe was taken by the narrow angle camera of Cassini, and it was captured when the probe was at a distance of 48,000 miles from the moon where Saturn’s majestic rings can be observed from the distance.
This image was taken during Cassini’s penultimate flyby and is also part of the last series of the scientific phase of the mission before it begins its final stage.
Mission controllers are preparing for the spacecraft to swoop down on Saturn’s ring plane where it will be placed into its polar orbit. The team will then send commands to the spacecraft where it will start to explore the rings of the giant gas planet, and offering closest view ever of the Saturn’s ring and its mysterious environment.
After visiting the Dione, Cassini will then embark on its next mission where the spacecraft will conduct a remarkable close flyby of a mere 30 miles on the surface of the Saturn’s other moon, the mysterious and icy Enceladus.
It is believed that vast liquid ocean is hiding underneath Enceladus’ icy crust from the evidence of polar geysers that are spewing salt water vapor into space. When the Cassini spacecraft meets Enceladus, mission controllers hope to get the data from the composition of this salty water vapor in order to explore if the moon is suitable for life.