Published On: Fri, Aug 14th, 2015

Cassini Spacecraft Will Make Last Close Flyby of Dione in August

A perspective of Saturn’s moon Dione prisoner by NASA’s Cassini booster during a tighten flyby on Jun 16, 2015. The erratic line nearby top left is a rings of Saturn, in a distance. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft will make a final tighten flyby of Saturn’s moon Dione on Aug 17.

Cassini’s closest approach, within 295 miles (474 kilometers) of Dione’s surface, will start during 11:33 a.m. PDT (2:33 p.m. EDT). Mission controllers design uninformed images to start nearing on Earth within a integrate of days following a encounter.

Cassini scientists have a brood of investigations designed for Dione. Gravity-science information from a flyby will urge scientists’ believe of a moon’s inner structure and concede comparisons to Saturn’s other moons. Cassini has achieved this arrange of sobriety scholarship review with usually a handful of Saturn’s 62 famous moons.

During a flyby, Cassini’s cameras and spectrometers will get a high-resolution look during Dione’s north stick during a fortitude of usually a few feet (or meters). In addition, Cassini’s Composite Infrared Spectrometer instrument will map areas on a icy moon that have surprising thermal anomalies — those regions are generally good during trapping heat. Meanwhile, a mission’s Cosmic Dust Analyzer continues a hunt for dirt particles issued from Dione.

This flyby will be a fifth targeted confront with Dione of Cassini’s debate during Saturn. Targeted encounters need maneuvers to precisely drive a booster toward a preferred trail above a moon. The booster executed a 12-second bake regulating a thrusters on Aug. 9, that fine-tuned a arena to capacitate a arriving encounter.

Cassini’s closest-ever flyby of Dione was in Dec 2011, during a stretch of 60 miles (100 kilometers). Those prior tighten Cassini flybys yielded high-resolution views of a bright, wispy turf on Dione initial seen during a Voyager mission. Cassini’s pointy views suggested a splendid facilities to be a complement of braided canyons with splendid walls. Scientists also have been fervent to find out if Dione has geologic activity, like Saturn’s geyser-spouting moon Enceladus, though during a many reduce level.

“Dione has been an enigma, giving hints of active geologic processes, including a transitory atmosphere and justification of ice volcanoes. But we’ve never found a smoking gun. The fifth flyby of Dione will be a final chance,” pronounced Bonnie Buratti, a Cassini scholarship group member during NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Cassini has been orbiting Saturn given 2004. After a array of tighten moon flybys in late 2015, a booster will skip Saturn’s equatorial craft — where moon flybys start many frequently — to start a year-long setup of a mission’s adventurous final year. For a grand finale, Cassini will regularly dive by a space between Saturn and a rings.

“This will be a final possibility to see Dione adult tighten for many years to come,” pronounced Scott Edgington, Cassini goal emissary plan scientist during JPL. “Cassini has supposing insights into this icy moon’s mysteries, along with a abounding information set and a horde of new questions for scientists to ponder.”

The Cassini-Huygens goal is a mild plan of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and a Italian Space Agency. JPL, a multiplication of a California Institute of Technology, manages a goal for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Source: Preston Dyches, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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