Saturn & Rings From Cassini Spacecraft

Saturn and its rings, as captured by the Cassini spacecraft on June 7, 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

As the international Cassini spacecraft winds up its 13-year exploration of Saturn and its moons on September 15, it’s been making a series of “grand finale” orbits that have offered stunning views of the planet and its rings.

This image was taken in June on the eighth of its 22 planned orbits before the spacecraft uses the gravity of Saturnian moon Titan as a slingshot to send it into a final, controlled plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere.

Before that, however, scientists hope the orbits will solve mysteries regarding the mass of Saturn’s rings and the planet’s rotation rate. The last five orbits will dip down to take samples of Saturn’s upper atmosphere.

 

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