As Cassini’s tour of Saturn draws to a close, NASA’s getting a bit nostalgic. Yesterday, the space agency released a photo of Saturn’s North pole the doomed spacecraft took on 26th April—the day it started its Grand Finale. It’s almost poetic to have a photo of Cassini staring into the void before it perishes within it.
According to NASA, Cassini snapped the picture when it was hovering 166,000 miles (267,000 kilometres) above Saturn. The planet’s North pole is notorious for the 1,250-mile-wide storm it harbours, which Cassini has photographed many times. The hexagonal jet stream surrounding that monster cyclone creates a unique visual that’s absolutely haunting at any vantage point.
Here’s that Cassini image in full:
For context, here’s that hexagonal storm in colour filters:
Cassini has only three orbits left in its 20-year-long journey, the next of which starts today. On its final dive on 15th September, it’ll plunge itself into Saturn’s atmosphere with its antenna pointing toward Earth, transmitting everything it can until the atmosphere overpowers it. So long and thanks for all the pics, Cassini. [NASA]