Sailing high above Saturn, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft recently made this sweeping portrait of the icy rings that girdle the planet.
“It’s a view that no human has had before, nor a spacecraft,” says Cassini scientist Carolyn Porco of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo. From a vantage point 40° above the equator, Cassini captured the rings’ full breadth as well as Saturn’s shadow across them.
By combining the views from several perspectives, Cassini is indicating the ring particles’ texture and density.
The craft has toured Saturn for nearly 3 years. Released by NASA on March 1, the mosaic of 36 images at top was recorded on Jan. 29, when the craft was 1.23 million kilometers from the planet.