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Dione Flyby (D-3) - Dec. 12, 2011

Dione Flyby (D-3) - Dec. 12, 2011

Dec. 12, 2011

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Dione by Saturn and the rings
  Saturn's moon Dione coasts along in its orbit appearing in front of its parent planet in this Cassini spacecraft view. Image taken July 18, 2011.
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Dione 'D-3' Flyby: What Lies Beneath?

On Dec. 12 the Cassini spacecraft flew by Dione at about 61 miles (99 kilometers) to examine the moon's internal structure. The radio science measurement should add insight into how highly structured the center of the small moon is, which in turn should provide clues about its recent history and possible activity.

The design of this close encounter provided the ion and neutral mass spectrometer (INMS) a good sample opportunity, and before closest approach there was also time for the optical remote sensing (ORS) instruments to observe Enceladus in the near-distance. Then, with the composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS) in the lead, Cassini turned back to Dione to study the moon's icy surface fractures and search further for signs of activity.

On the outbound leg, the imaging science subsystem (ISS) lead for ORS instruments to map Dione with a mosaic. There was also an opportunity for a scan for the composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS) and a long observation for the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIMS).

Related Link:

Portraits of Moons Captured by Cassini -- Dec. 12, 2011

Dione Flyby at a Glance
Dione Flyby
Dec. 12, 2011 (SCET)

61 miles (99 kilometers)

19,500 mph (8.7 km/sec )


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