from its second stunning dive through Saturn’s rings. And they’re even more beautiful and eerie than before.

The dive was one of 22 journeys the spacecraft is making through the rings as part of its “Grand Finale”. That will end in September when engineers fly the craft into Saturn’s atmosphere and destroy it — necessary to ensure that any life that attached itself to Cassini doesn’t populate other worlds.

But before its fiery end, Cassini is going to send back some of the best pictures we have ever seen of Saturn and its stunning rings. And the new images more than fulfil that brief.

Cassini’s mission to Saturn Cassini’s mission to Saturn

They show the stunning, streaking rings that surround Saturn in unprecedented detail.

The images were taken when Cassini dived into the mysteriously and shockingly empty space between Saturn and its rings, during a flyby on 2 May. The ship has been sending back the raw images from that journey since.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Nasa expects the images will get better over time, as engineers learn more about how best to use the cameras that are mounted onto Cassini.

(NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

“The images from the first pass were great, but we were conservative with the camera settings. We plan to make updates to our observations for a similar opportunity on June 29 that we think will result in even better views,” said Andrew Ingersoll, a member of the Cassini imaging team based at Caltech in Pasadena, California.

Nasa also released a video made up of the images that were taken on Cassini’s first big dive.

It shows the view from the ship as it swooped over Saturn, plunging from 45,000 miles above the planet to 4,200 miles above it.


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