Nasa's Cassini spacecraft takes final flyby of Saturn's moon

(REUTERS) - Nasa released new images on Tuesday (Dec 22) taken from its Cassini spacecraft as it made a final close flyby of Saturn's small, ocean-bearing moon, Enceladus.

Nasa said the spacecraft had begun transmitting data and images from the mission's final close flyby, passing the moon at a distance of 4,999km on Dec 19.

Nasa called the flyby the "capstone" on a decade of investigation into one of the solar system's more intriguing celestial bodies.

The images released by Nasa show three views from Cassini - one as it peered out over the northern territory of the moon, another that focused on the icy moon's craggy, dimly lit limb, with the planet Saturn beyond, and a third image showing the nearly parallel furrows and ridges of the feature named Samarkand Sulci, according to Nasa's website.

Nasa animation was also released demonstrating the spacecraft's composite infrared spectrometer instrument observing the moon's south polar terrain during the close flyby.