A distant spacecraft in orbit around Saturn has sent back its final images of Rhea, one of the planet's moons.

Rhea is Saturn's second largest moon, and is the ninth largest in the solar system.

Roughly 950 miles in diameter, Rhea may also have its own rings - similar, though less dramatic, to those around its host planet. (However later studies have thrown doubt on the odd feature since their 2008 discovery.)

Named after the Greek 'mother of the gods', the moon has a heavily cratered, rocky surface, distinguished by strange lines of material known as Dione-type chasmata. Nasa has also said it has a tenuous atmopshere of its own, consisting of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

However, the intriguing little moon will soon be lost to Nasa and ESA's robotic explorer Cassini, after it made its last pass-by on 9 March.

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  • Saturn's Moon Rhea

  • Saturn's Moon Rhea

  • Saturn's Moon Rhea

  • Saturn's Moon Rhea

  • Saturn's Moon Rhea

  • In this image provided by NASA Tuesday Dec. 18, 2012 NASA's Cassini spacecraft has delivered a glorious view of Saturn, taken while the spacecraft was in Saturn's shadow. The cameras were turned toward Saturn and the sun so that the planet and rings are backlit. In addition to the visual splendor, this special, very-high-phase viewing geometry lets scientists study ring and atmosphere phenomena not easily seen at a lower phase. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • ADDS DROPPED WORDS IN SECOND SENTENCE--An image provided by NASA shows Saturn's largest moon Titan passing in front of the giant planet in an image made by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The natural color view of Saturn and one of it's moons was made by Cassini's wide-angle camera on May 6, 2012 and released by NASA on Wednesday Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • NASA's Cassini spacecraft obtained this unprocessed image on Dec. 12, 2011. The camera was pointing toward Saturn's moon Dione from approximately 69,989 miles (112,636 kilometers) away. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft successfully completed its closest-ever pass over Saturn’s moon Dione on Monday, Dec. 12, slaloming its way through the Saturn system on its way to tomorrow’s close flyby of Titan. (AP Photo/NASA)

  • This photo made March 10, 2012, by NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows a raw, unprocessed image of Saturn's moon Rhea. The camera was pointing toward Rhea from a distance of approximately 42,096 kilometers (26,157 miles). (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

  • This photo made March 10, 2012, by NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows a raw, unprocessed image of Saturn's moon Rhea. The camera was pointing toward Rhea from a distance of approximately 42,096 kilometers (26,157 miles). (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI)

  • This false-color mosaic provided by NASA from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows the tail of Saturn's huge northern storm, top. The storm's 200-day active period also makes it the longest-lasting planet-encircling storm ever seen on Saturn. The previous record holder was an outburst sighted in 1903, which lingered for 150 days. The large disturbance imaged 21 years ago by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and comparable in size to the current storm lasted for only 55 days. (AP Photo/ NASA/JPL)

  • This Cassini spacecraft narrow angle cam

    SPACE, SPACE: This Cassini spacecraft narrow angle camera view released 19 August, 2004 shows Saturn's southern polar region. The dark spot at the bottom of the image marks the planet's south pole. The image was takenfrom a distance of 6.2 million kilometers (3.9 million miles) from Saturn, through a filter which lets infrared light pass through. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. AFP PHOTO/ NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute (Photo credit should read HO/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Cassini Enters Orbit Around Saturn

    JULY 1 - IN SPACE: This NASA handout photo taken by the Cassini spacecraft on July 1, 2004 shows a portion of Saturn's rings up close. Cassini is the first spacecraft to enter orbit around the ringed planet. It will spend four years gathering information on the planet and its rings and moons. (Photo by NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute via Getty Images)

  • FILE PHOTO - Cassini Spacecraft Prepares To Enter Saturn's Orbit

    IN SPACE - MAY 16: (FILE PHOTO) In this handout photo provided by NASA, Saturn appears in an image returned by the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft on May 16, 2004, when its imaging science subsystem narrow-angle camera was too close to fit the entire planet in its field-of-view. Cassini is expected to enter the ringed planet's orbit on June 30, 2004. It has taken the spacecraft over 6 years to reach Saturn. (Photo by NASA via Getty Images)


Cassini is only scheduled to operate until 2017, and will not make another pass close to the moon before it descends into Saturn's stormy atmosphere and disintergrates.

Carolyn Porco, who is the Cassini Imaging Team Leader, wrote on BoingBoing that the pictures may be the last shots of the moon we ever see.

"Take a good, long, luxurious look at these sights from another world, as they will be the last close-ups you'll ever see of this particular moon," she said.

"We're nearing the end of this historic expedition. Let's enjoy the finale while we can."