NASA has published a video on its website in a post titled “Inside-Out Rings Movie,” which sounds like it might be a frightening twist on Pixar’s beloved feature of the same name. But it’s actually a gorgeous view of the Cassini spacecraft diving between Saturn’s rings.
You just don’t see things like this every day. Although, for Cassini, capturing beautiful views of Saturn has become a regular occurrence.
Using its wide-angle camera, Cassini captured 21 images as it dove between Saturn and its rings earlier this month. Each image was captured about four minutes apart as the spacecraft looked outward toward the cosmos.
NASA explains what we’re seeing:
The entirety of the main rings can be seen here, but due to the low viewing angle, the rings appear extremely foreshortened. The perspective shifts from the sunlit side of the rings to the unlit side, where sunlight filters through. On the sunlit side, the grayish C ring looks larger in the foreground because it is closer; beyond it is the bright B ring and slightly less-bright A ring, with the Cassini Division between them. The F ring is also fairly easy to make out.
What makes the movie even more beautiful is knowing Cassini’s “Grand Finale” is just over the horizon. In fact, NASA has already confirmed the spacecraft will dive into Saturn on September 15 (just a few days after Apple announces the iPhone 8; coincidence? I think not).