Curious Satellite Approach

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Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

A while back I called Iapetus "one of the most curious objects in the solar system". As Emily Lakdawalla reports (with some nifty links) Cassini recently made its closest approach to the two-tone moon, acquiring the highest ever resolution images of its surface. Those images are still mostly in the processing pipeline, but the Cassini homepage has seen fit to remind us that the raw images (such as the one above) are being posted to the net in that cool fashion of NASA's.

Those with the know-how - Emily Lakdawalla for example - have already assembled a few colour images, and it seems likely that the CICLOPS lot will have a few to show for it as well. Gordan Ugarkovic has put together the colour version of a nice little view of Saturn and some of its closer moons as seen from out by Iapetus which you can find here.

Just fooling around with Celestia it's easy to see that Iapetus is actually really far out from Saturn compared to the other moons, so it's no surprise that Cassini won't ever be back for a return visit. In fact it may well be decades before another spacecraft gets so close to this peculiar moon.

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