NASA has released a spectacular image of the ringed planet Saturn and its moons which Cassini captured during the final leg of its two decade long journey in space.
The spacecraft used its wide-angle camera to collect 42 red, green and blue images on September 13, 2017, which portrayed the planet, its main rings from one end to another along with its moons Prometheus, Pandora, Janus, Epimetheus, Mimas and Enceladus.The images taken have been assembled into a new mosaic which has a natural colour view.
"Cassini's scientific bounty has been truly spectacular - a vast array of new results leading to new insights and surprises, from the tiniest of ring particles to the opening of new landscapes on Titan and Enceladus, to the deep interior of Saturn itself," said Robert West, Cassini's deputy imaging team leader at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US.
The Cassini imaging team had been planning this special farewell view of Saturn for years. For some, when the end finally came, it was a difficult goodbye.
"It was all too easy to get used to receiving new images from the Saturn system on a daily basis, seeing new sights, watching things change," said Elizabeth Turtle, an imaging team associate at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Maryland.
"It was hard to say goodbye, but how lucky we were to be able to see it all through Cassini's eyes!" Turtle said further.
For others, Cassini's farewell to Saturn is reminiscent of another parting from long ago.
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"For 37 years, Voyager 1's last view of Saturn has been, for me, one of the most evocative images ever taken in the exploration of the solar system," said Carolyn Porco, former Voyager imaging team member and Cassini's imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute in the US.
"In a similar vein, this 'Farewell to Saturn' will forevermore serve as a reminder of the dramatic conclusion to that wondrous time humankind spent in intimate study of our Sun's most iconic planetary system," stated Porco.
Cassini spacecraft was launched in 1997, the spacecraft orbited Saturn 2004 to 2017.
This mission helped in unearthing several data about Saturn, its moon Enceladus' geological activity and its largest moon Titan's liquid methane seas.
Cassini's Grand Finale took place on September 15 this year, when it plunged into Saturn's atmosphere and put an end to its journey.