Stunning close-up images of Saturn's icy moon Dione has been released. The images were taken during NASA's Cassini spacecraft's final close flyby of the moon.
Seen in the images is a pockmarked landscape looming below the Cassini spacecraft, which on Aug. 17 passed 295 miles above the surface of Dione. This is the fifth close encounter of the NASA spacecraft with the icy moon of Saturn.
In a statement on NASA, Space Science Institute's Cassini imaging team lead Carolyn Porco said as she knows everyone else is, she is moved looking at the exquisite images of Dione's surface and crescent "knowing that they are the last we will see of this far-off world for a very long time to come."
"Right down to the last, Cassini has faithfully delivered another extraordinary set of riches," Porco said. "How lucky we have been."
Since 2004, the Cassini spacecraft has been exploring Saturn and its moons. In December 2011, the spacecraft made its closest flyby of Dione when it passed within 60 miles of the surface of the icy moon.
In late 2017, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will end its mission and it is set to execute a series of dives through the gap between Saturn and its iconic rings as it performs an acrobatic finale near the end of its mission, Los Angeles Times has learned.
On Oct. 14, Oct. 28 and Dec. 19, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is also set to make three approaches to Saturn's geologically active moon Enceladus. On Oct. 28, it will pass only 30 miles from its surface.