Nasa has put together a movie comprised of images from the first of the Cassini spacecraft’s Grand Finale dives over Saturn.
Cassini was launched way back in 1997, and is set to complete 22 final orbits of the ringed planet before it plunges into Saturn and ends its 20-year journey.
The film begins with a view of the swirling vortex at the planet’s north pole, and then heads past the outer boundary of the hexagon-shaped jet stream.
Cassini’s altitude above the clouds dropped from 45,000 to 4,200 miles as the movie frames were captured, with the smallest resolvable features in the atmosphere changing from 5.4 miles per pixel to 0.5 miles per pixel.
“The images from the first pass were great, but we were conservative with the camera settings,” Andrew Ingersoll, a member of the Cassini imaging team, said. We plan to make updates to our observations for a similar opportunity on June 28 that we think will result in even better views.”
That’s not all though – Cassini also managed to capture some incredible raw images of Saturn’s rings.
No doubt there will be plenty more to come as Cassini continues its Grand Finale.