NASA Unveils Farewell Images of Saturn, Its Rings And Moos

Farewell to Saturn NASA releases this stunning image

But, one in particular stands out from all the rest.

Made of 42 images, taken separately in red, green and blue light by Cassini's wide-angle camera September 13, the mosaic shows Saturn and its rings from one end to the other.

Two days before it plunged into the thick atmosphere of Saturn, ending its 13-year mission to the gas giant system, NASA's spacecraft Cassini took its last complete set of images that show the planet and its rings in all their glory.

The image, as the agency describes, is mosaic of as many as 42 shots of a total of 80 wide-angle images that Cassini took during the last leg of its mission.

Research by NASA so far shows that the Moon has something resembling an ocean thanks to a geyser that sprays a plume of molecular hydrogen into space-a sign that Enceladus could have hydrothermal vents and thus be habitable for some species. The smaller moon Mimas (396 km, or 246 miles across) can be seen beyond Rhea also on the right side of the image. It did so in style, plunging into Saturn's atmosphere - the planet it had most closely studied in the past 13 years.

"Cassini's scientific bounty has been truly spectacular - a vast array of new results leading to new insights and surprises, from the tiniest of ring particles to the opening of new landscapes on Titan and Enceladus, to the deep interior of Saturn itself", said Robert West from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The Cassini imaging team had been preparing this farewell view for years, NASA said. Imaging scientists stitched these frames together to make a natural colour view.

In the breathtaking last look at Saturn, the planet appears bathed in a crescent of sunlight, seen as Cassini viewed it from roughly 698,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) away.

Annotated and brightened version of the above image.

Though rather faint, you can spot six of Saturn's 53 moons in the image - Enceladus, Epimetheus, Janus, Mimas, Pandora, and Prometheus.

The Cassini-Huygens mission has been a cooperative project of Nasa, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency.

"It was all too easy to get used to receiving new images from the Saturn system on a daily basis, seeing new sights, watching things change", said Elizabeth Turtle, an imaging team associate at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland.

Great work, goodbye, Cassini!

The image has been aptly captioned, "A Farewell to Saturn".

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