Picture of the Day: Cassini Flies Past Helene, Saturn's Icy Moon


This photograph -- and others like it -- was beamed down to Earth from NASA's Cassini spacecraft as it made its second-closest encounter with Helene, Saturn's icy moon, on June 18. "At closest approach, Cassini flew within 4,330 miles of Helene's surface," NASA explained. "It was the second closest approach to Helene of the entire mission."

Just one of Saturn's many moons (62 with confirmed orbits), Helene was discovered in 1980 with ground-based observations from the Pic du Midi Observatory in the French Pyrenees. Designated S/1980 S 6, the moon's name was officially changed in 1988 to honor Helen of Troy, granddaughter of Cronus in Greek mythology.

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Image: NASA.