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NASA’s Cassini takes breathtaking images of Saturn’s northern hemisphere

by Brandon Russell | December 10, 2016December 10, 2016 10:00 am PDT

NASA’s Cassini has been soaring through the cosmos for nearly 20 years and to celebrate the latest phase of its journey, the intrepid spacecraft has sent scientists new images of Saturn’s northern hemisphere.

The purpose of Cassini’s newest mission phase, called Ring-Grazing Orbits, is to skim past the outer edges of the planet’s main rings, according to NASA. The pictures above, which highlights the planet’s hexagon-shaped jet stream, were taken in early December.

“This is it, the beginning of the end of our historic exploration of Saturn,” said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team lead at Space Science Institute. “Let these images—and those to come—remind you that we’d lived a bold and daring adventure around the solar system’s most magnificent planet.”

Cassini will continue its ring-grazing orbits until April 22 of next year, where it will then begin its descent toward the planet’s surface. By September of 2017,  Cassini will no longer exist.

The beginning of the end

Cassini launched all the way back in 1997 and has continued to study the Saturn system since arriving in 2004.

Over the years, the orbiter has uncovered a potential ocean on a Saturn moon, and sent back an incredibly beautiful image of a hurricane on the planet, among many other accomplishments.

NASA

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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