Cassini Space Craft Sends Final Images Of Saturn's Moon Rhea (PICTURES)

Doomed Spacecraft Sends Us Final Images Of Saturn's Moon

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.

Saturn's Moon Rhea

Cassini Space Craft

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."


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