NASA’s Cassini spacecraft beams back breathtaking image of a Saturnian dawn


Image: Nasa

NASAs Cassini spacecraft has beamed back a stunning image that shows a sliver of Saturns sunlit atmosphere with its icy rings stretched across the foreground as a dark band. The Cassini mission is currently executing a series of daring ring-grazing dives as the mission comes closer to the culmination of its epic 20-year-long journey in space. The new image captures the unilluminated side of the rings from about seven degrees below the ring plane.

Image: Nasa
The image was taken in green light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on 31 March. The view was obtained at a distance of about one million kilometers from Saturn. After executing 22 dives between the planets icy rings, the spacecraft will plunge into Saturns atmosphere. The grand finale orbits bring the spacecraft closer to Saturn than ever before, providing stunning, high-resolution images and new insights into the planets interior structure and the origins of the rings, NASA said.

During its final plunge into Saturn, Cassini will send data about the atmospheres composition until its signal is lost. Cassini has been a constant companion of Saturn for over 13 years, and at the end of its mission, it will become one with the gas giant. NASA is purposely de-orbiting the spacecraft as the space agency will lost control of Cassini when its fuel runs out. Cassini could then potentially crash into and contaminate the moons of Saturn, which may harbour life.

Taken from Tech2.