Cassini's New Year fly-by of Iapetus
The NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini spacecraft successfully flew by Saturn's moon Iapetus at a distance of 123 400 kilometres on Saturday, 1 January 2005, at about 03:44 CET.
Iapetus is a world of sharp contrasts. The leading hemisphere is as dark as a freshly tarred road, and the white, trailing hemisphere resembles freshly fallen snow.
This fly-by was the first close encounter of Iapetus during the four-year Cassini tour. The second and final close fly-by of Iapetus is scheduled for 2007. The next task for Cassini is to act as a communications relay for ESA's Huygens probe during its descent to Titan on 14 January.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a co-operative project of NASA, ESA and ASI, the Italian space agency.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute