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Dione on a skewer

Charles Black, Founder and CEO of Sen
Jan 31, 2012, 0:00 UTC

Sen— NASA’s Cassini mission had its closest approach with Saturn’s moon Dione on 12 December 2011. While flying 57,000 kilometres above the surface of the moon, a wide angle camera was used to capture this image. The picture shows a lopsided Saturn and Dione as the north poles of both the planet and the moon are rotated to the right.

Dione appears to be skewered by Saturn’s rings, which are visible as a thin diagonal line in this picture.

Saturn has 62 moons. Dione was discovered by Giovanni Cassini on 21 March 1684.

Dione is a small heavily cratered moon with a diameter of 1,123 km (698 miles).

Dione orbits Saturn every 2.7 Earth days at a distance of 377,400 km (234,000 miles), a similar distance to the orbit of the Moon around the Earth.  

Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2004 armed with 12 instruments to study the ringed planet and its moons. 

Cassini launched in October 1997, together with the European Space Agency's Huygens probe. The Huygens probe was designed to explore Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The probe was equipped with six instruments to study Titan and landed on Titan's surface in January 2005.

Among the most important targets of the mission are the moons Titan and Enceladus, as well as some of Saturn’s other icy moons.

Towards the end of the mission, Cassini will make closer studies of the planet and its rings.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in California, manages the mission for NASA.

The Cassini orbiter has two onboard cameras designed, developed and assembled at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute.