NASA’s Cassini spacecraft whizzed by Saturn’s moon Dione to capture image freaky streaks thought to be canyons with ice walls up to 100 storeys tall. The images it captured from that close pass are incredible.
Cassini snaps a surprising shot showing Saturn looms in the background, where moon Dione positioned perfectly for its host planet’s rings to make it into the shot. This was the fourth aimed flyby of Cassini to Dione and the spacecraft had a close approach altitude of 321 miles (516 kilometers) from the Dione’s surface.
The new images from Cassini’s encounter reveal wispy bands of bright material stretching hundreds of miles across Dione.
This is as close as one made by Cassini back in 2011.
The image was obtained at a distance of approximately 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers) from Dione and at a sun-Dione-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 128 degrees.
This is the penultimate flyby of Dione before Cassini’s mission end.
Cassini is scheduled its final visit to Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, in late 2016.
Cassini has also sent back great images of other moons orbiting Saturn. It recently got some of Saturn’s weird moon Hyperion, which was held during a close flyby.
Cassini was launched to space in 1997, and reached at Saturn in 2004; since then, it has been exploring the giant planet and its 53 known moons. The spacecraft’s long mission will likely end in 2017 when it runs out of fuel, and pulls in a planned crash into Saturn’s atmosphere.