On September 15th, Cassini made its final journey around Saturn and bid farewell to us before plunging into the atmosphere and into self-destruction. Before ending its 13-year-long mission, the spacecraft used its wide-angle camera to capture the final shots of the ringed planet. Now, NASA combined all these photographs and produced one impressive image of the icy giant.
The image was a mosaic of the planet from one end to the other
This final image is the result of 42 individual shots taken with the wide-angle camera during the last part of the Cassini mission. To produce all these images, the cameras of the spacecraft used blue, green, and red spectral filters. With their help, researchers put together a comprehensive image of the entire planet, from one end to the other.
The final picture doesn’t only contain Saturn in its entirety, but also six of its moons. These are Janus, Pandora, Prometheus, Mimas, Enceladus, and Epimetheus, but they are a bit too far away and faint to appear in the shot. Also, plenty of stars are part of the mosaic as well.
This was the best way to end the 13 years of successful observation
Cassini took all these images as it was getting close to Saturn, and was at about 1.1 million kilometers away. Scientists have been preparing for this moment for a long time, and it comes like the climax of their efforts to explore one of the most interesting planets of the Solar System. This was the perfect way to end 13 years of study, and to celebrate the success of the mission.
Cassini was launched in 1997, but reached Saturn only in 2004. Up until September 2017, the spacecraft kept orbiting the planet, taking snapshots of its surface, rings, and moons, and offering us new insights into its mysteries.
Image Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory