Final Frontier

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

February 23, 2018 – This view of Saturn looks toward the planet’s night side, lit by sunlight reflected from the rings. A mosaic of some of the very last images captured by Cassini’s cameras, it shows the location where the spacecraft would enter the planet’s atmosphere hours later. The oval marks the entry site. While this area was on the night side of the planet at the time, it would rotate into daylight by the time Cassini made its final dive into Saturn’s upper atmosphere, ending its remarkable 13-year exploration of Saturn.

Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to show the scene in near natural color. The images were taken with Cassini’s wide-angle camera on September 14, 2017, at a distance of approximately 394,000 miles (634,000 kilometers) from Saturn.

The Cassini spacecraft ended its mission on September 15, 2017.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.