NASA outs picture of Dione showing its chasms

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As we await the latest photographs of Dione from Cassini’s latest and last flyby of Saturn’s moon, NASA has released a spectacular image of Dione, which was captured on April 11.

NASA notes that the moon isn’t bursting with activity like its sister Enceladus, but the surface of Dione is packed with some amazing features including linear features, called chasmata, which provide dramatic contrast to the round impact craters that typically cover moons.

Back when Voyager captured images of Dione, the bright network of fractures on Dione, which are 698 miles or 1123 kilometers across, originally visible in poor resolution and was labeled as “wispy terrain.”

The images taken by Cassini in high resolution show that the ‘wispy terrain’ is a pattern of bright icy cliffs among myriad fractures. One possibility is that this stress pattern may be related to Dione’s orbital evolution and the effect of tidal stresses over time.

This view looks toward the trailing hemisphere of Dione. North on Dione is up. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on April 11, 2015. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 68,000 miles (110,000 kilometers) from Dione. Image scale is 2,200 feet (660 meters) per pixel.

Chasms on Dione

Chasms on Dione

On August 17, Cassini made its last flyby of Dione and during the flyby and during the flyby NASA had planned a bevy of investigations including gravity-science data to improve scientists’ knowledge of the moon’s internal structure and allow comparisons to Saturn’s other moons.

Cassini is expected to have taken a high-resolution peek at Dione’s north pole at a resolution of only a few feet (or meters). In addition, Cassini’s Composite Infrared Spectrometer instrument should have mapped areas on the icy moon that have unusual thermal anomalies — those regions are especially good at trapping heat.

We are expecting a few images of this flyby to be released by NASA soon.