The Cassini mission to Saturn will end on September 15th when the spacecraft’s orbit will take it into the gas giant’s atmosphere. This video shows some of the spectacular imagery of the Saturn system sent back by the probe since it went into orbit there in 2004.

** Here is a video clip showing the plume of water vapor emitted at the pole of Saturn’s moon Enceladus: Cassini: The Grand Finale: Last Enceladus Plume Observation

This movie sequence of images is from the last dedicated observation of the Enceladus plume by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

The images were obtained over approximately 14 hours as Cassini’s cameras stared at the active, icy moon. The view during the entire sequence is of the moon’s night side, but Cassini’s perspective Enceladus shifts during the sequence. The movie begins with a view of the part of the surface lit by reflected light from Saturn and transitions to completely unilluminated terrain. The exposure time of the images changes about halfway through the sequence, in order to make fainter details visible. (The change also makes background stars become visible.)

The images in this movie sequence were taken on Aug. 28, 2017, using Cassini’s narrow-angle camera. The images were acquired at a distance from Enceladus that changed from 684,000 to 539,000 (1.1 million to 868,000 kilometers). Image scale changes during the sequence, from 4 to 3 miles (7 to 5 kilometers) per pixel.

** Sharpest images yet of Saturn’s rings: Cassini: The Grand Finale: Colorful Structure at Fine Scales

These are the highest-resolution color images of any part of Saturn’s rings, to date, showing a portion of the inner-central part of the planet’s B Ring. The view is a mosaic of two images that show a region that lies between 61,300 and 65,600 miles (98,600 and 105,500 kilometers) from Saturn’s center.

The first image (Figure A, above) is a natural color composite, created using images taken with red, green and blue spectral filters. The pale tan color is generally not perceptible with the naked eye in telescope views, especially given that Saturn has a similar hue.

The material responsible for bestowing this color on the rings—which are mostly water ice and would otherwise appear white—is a matter of intense debate among ring scientists that will hopefully be settled by new in-situ observations before the end of Cassini’s mission.


More about Cassini’s final days and its legacy: