In a fitting farewell to the planet that had been its home for over 13 years, the international Cassini spacecraft took one last, lingering look at Saturn and the splendid rings during the final leg of its journey and snapped a series of images that has been assembled into this new mosaic.
The mission concluded on 15 September with a planned dramatic plunge into the planet’s atmosphere. Two days earlier it captured wide-angle images to cover the planet and its main rings from one end to the other. The moons Prometheus, Pandora, Janus, Epimetheus, Mimas and Enceladus also make a faint appearance in the background. Can you spot them? (Click here for a labelled version of this image.)
The image shown here has been brightened to reveal the details of the moons and rings; the original natural colour view can be found here.
This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about 15° above the ring plane. Cassini was 1.1 million km from Saturn, on its final approach to the planet, when the 42 red, green and blue images in this mosaic were taken. They were combined and mosaicked together to create a natural-colour view. The image scale on Saturn is about 67 km/ pixel. The image scale on the moons varies from 59 km/pixel to 80 km/pixel. The Sun-planet-spacecraft angle is 138°.
The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA and Italy’s ASI space agency.
The image was first released on 20 November.