After a long wait, NASA has finally released the final pictures of the mesmerizing view of the planet Saturn taken by Cassini during its final hours. Before its final plunge into the surface of Saturn on September 13th, Cassini managed to provide some of the best and closely clicked image of Saturn. Cassini used the wide-angle camera which helped it acquire 42 images in red, blue and green. The images covered the planet starting from its first ring till the last one. The imaging scientists working at NASA managed to put up these frames together to obtain a natural and viewable color picture. The pictures include various angles of the moons of Saturn as well which include Enceladus, Prometheus, Mimas, Pandora, Janus, and Epimetheus.
Cassini’s mission ended after a 20-year long journey which was fruitful for the study of potential life in the planet’s moon. Robert West, Cassini’s deputy imaging team leader at NASA’s jet propulsion Laboratory in the US, said that Cassini’s scientific journey from Earth to the planet with rings has been spectacular and provides significant insights into the tiniest particles residing in the rings. The pictures also reveal new patterns of landscapes on the moons like Titan and Enceladus as well as the deeper parts of Saturn.
“It was habitual to expect daily updates and new images of the Saturn system. Looking at new sights and things changing before our eyes was an exciting feeling,” explained Elizabeth Turtle, imaging team associate at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in the US. The mission has successfully made discoveries related to the geological activities on Saturn’s moon Enceladus and the liquid methane-based seas on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon known as Titan.
Cassini was launched in the year 1997, and this particular spacecraft was designed to orbit around the ringed planet, Saturn and return. The mission changed its protocol to obtain more details of the planet, and thus Cassini orbited Saturn for the time-space between 2004 and 2017. Cassini kept providing images and data until its final contact with Earth.
Collaboration between NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the ISA (Italian Space Agency) led to the formation of Cassini-Huygens mission. The mission is managed by NASA’s Jet propulsion Laboratory which is a division of Caltech in Pasadena for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The orbiter was designed, developed as well as assembled at JPL along with the two powerful cameras which helped Cassini provide these spectacular images of Saturn and its moons. Scientists from the U.S., England, Germany, and France made up the imaging team for the mission. Base The Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado makes up the base for all the imaging operations and team management by the team leaders for the mission. Cassini has truly provided hope for better understanding of Saturn and its moons with great hope for finding extra-terrestrial life at Enceladus or Titan.