This map of the surface of Iapetus (1,471 kilometers 914 miles across), generated from images taken by the Voyager spacecraft, illustrates the imaging coverage planned during Cassini's flyby on December 31, 2004.
Cassini will glide past Iapetus at a distance of approximately 123,400 kilometers (76,700 miles) on New Year's Eve, at a speed of about 2 kilometers per second (4,474 miles per hour). Imaging coverage will be focused primarily on the dark terrain of Iapetus' leading hemisphere, in the area known as Cassini Regio. The spacecraft's namesake, Giovanni Cassini, discovered Iapetus in 1671 and was only able to see the moon's bright trailing hemisphere.
Colored lines on the map enclose regions that will be covered at different imaging scales as Cassini approaches Iapetus.
Images from this flyby will be superior in resolution to those obtained by Voyager 2 in August 1981. Voyager 2 passed Iapetus at a distance of approximately 909,000 kilometers (564,800 miles) at closest approach, yielding a best resolution of about 8 kilometers per pixel. The resolution of Cassini images from this flyby will be 1.5 kilometers per pixel and better.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.