NASA just revealed this wonderful view taken by the Cassini archive. They call this Saturnian image “The Grace of Saturn.”
“Saturn’s graceful lanes of orbiting ice — its iconic rings — wind their way around the planet to pass beyond the horizon in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft,” describes NASA.
The newly released image of the gas giant proves that Saturn is the most beautiful planet in the solar system.
Cassini spacecraft took this image on Aug. 12. It captured it roughly 581,000 miles (935,000 kilometers) away from Saturn.
The image shows the gas giant and its iconic rings in all their glory. But not only that. If you look closely you will see its tiny moon Pandora just beyond the thin outer F ring. This moon is not round but instead a potato-shaped object, 110 by 84 by 62 km (68 x 52 x 39 miles) in size. However, in this image, it looks like a dim tiny dot.
The distance to Pandora was 691,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers).
The gap between Saturn’s cloud tops and its innermost D ring is an area through which Cassini would pass 22 times before ending its mission.
“Scientists scoured images of this region, particularly those taken at the high phase (spacecraft-ring-sun) angles, looking for material that might pose a hazard to the spacecraft,” NASA said.
“We left the world informed, but still wondering, and I couldn’t ask for more,” Cassini project manager Earl Maize, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said at a news conference back in September. “We’ve got to go back — we know it.”
The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The spacecraft ended its mission on Sept. 15, 2017.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) designed, developed, and assembled the Cassini spacecraft and its two onboard cameras.
Thumbnail Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute