The Cassini Spacecraft bid farewell to NASA by releasing various images of the gas-based planet and its moons before it plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere on September 15. In order to leave a mark on Cassini’s 13-year old mission, the space agency released a shot which shows Saturn and its majestic rings. If you have been wondering what the gas giant’s rings look like up close, this is a great opportunity to check them out.
The image that the space agency revealed included a combination of 42 shots taken with Cassini’s wide-angle camera during its last moments before it entered Saturn’s atmosphere. The photos were taken using red, green, and blue spectral filters for better quality and they included the entire planet with its icy rings. NASA combined those imaged into one large, color shot.
NASA said that the picture also shows Saturn’s six moons called Prometheus, Pandora, Janus, Epimetheus, Mimas, and Enceladus, and many stars, although they are too far away to be seen easily. Cassini took the images of the planet when it was approximately 698,000 miles from Saturn, during its final approach to the gas giant. The space agency added that the imaging team of Cassini has been planning the farewell view of Saturn for many years.
“For 37 years, Voyager 1’s last view of Saturn has been, for me, one of the most evocative images ever taken in the exploration of the solar system,” said Carolyn Porco in NASA’s press release, who is the team leader of Cassini’s imaging team at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and also former Voyager imaging team member. “In a similar vein, this ‘Farewell to Saturn’ will forevermore serve as a reminder of the dramatic conclusion to that wondrous time humankind spent in intimate study of our Sun’s most iconic planetary system.”
Cassini was launched in 1997, and it orbited Saturn between 2004 and September 2017. The spacecraft managed to take a lot of wonderful images of Saturn, but also, thanks to the Cassini mission, we got to know more about Saturn’s rings and natural satellites before the Cassini spacecraft bid farewell in September.
The Cassini-Huygens mission was a project of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency.
Great work, goodbye, Cassini!