Cassini captures ice queen Helene
The flyby will help scientists better understand the history of Saturn’s small moon.
June 21, 2011
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has successfully completed its second-closest encounter with Saturn's icy moon Helene, beaming down raw images of the small moon. At closest approach June 18, Cassini flew within 4,330 miles (6,970 kilometers) of Helene's surface.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft obtained this unprocessed image of Saturn's moon Helene June 18, 2011. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Cassini passed from Helene's night side to the moon's sunlit side. It also captured images of the Saturn-facing side of the moon in sunlight, a region that was only illuminated by sunlight reflected off Saturn the last time Cassini was close in March 2010. This flyby will enable scientists to finish creating a global map of Helene so they can better understand the history of impacts to the moon and gully-like features seen on previous flybys.
The closest Helene encounter of the mission took place March 10, 2010, when Cassini flew within 1,130 miles (1,820 kilometers) of the moon.