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article imageSaturn flyby reveals icy moon Dione's enigmatic craters

By Caroline Leopold     Aug 22, 2015 in Science
Scientists get their last look at Saturn’s icy moon Dione after NASA's Cassini spacecraft made a flyby this week taking fresh images.
Scientists are eager to examine imagery taken of Saturn's mysterious moon and hope to answer questions about Dione's surface and its ice volcanos.
Cassini made its fifth flyby of Saturn's moon Dione this week and captured stunning images of its cratered surface. The craft came within 295 miles of the moon's surface.
NASA released raw images from Cassini’s camera offering detailed views of Dione's frozen, cratered surface, which also has chasmata, which are linear cuts into its surface.
Some parts of Dione s surface are covered by linear features  called chasmata  which provide dramati...
Some parts of Dione's surface are covered by linear features, called chasmata, which provide dramatic contrast to the round impact craters that typically cover moons.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Dione measures nearly 698 miles (1,123 kilometers) around its equator. The moon circles Saturn in just under 3 Earth days.
Researchers want to know whether Dione is geologically active like some of Saturn's other moons.
“Dione has been an enigma, giving hints of active geologic processes, including a transient atmosphere and evidence of ice volcanoes. But we’ve never found the smoking gun. The fifth flyby of Dione (was) our last chance,” said Bonnie Buratti, a Cassini science team member at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California told Space Flight Now.
Researchers will read the images looking for any sign of past activity of Dione's mysterious features scientists think are ice volcanoes.
Cassini's next trip on its space itinerary will be to visit the water-rich moon Enceladus a few more times. Then, the craft will explore Saturn's outer moons.
The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency.
More about Dione, Cassini mission, cassini saturn, Saturn, NASA
 
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