These are Cassini’s parting shots of the Saturn system

Saturn's G Ring

The Cassini spacecraft took one final round of images on its farewell tour of the Saturnian system. This raw image, taken September 13 and received on Earth on September 14, showcases Saturn’s hallmark rings.

JPL-Caltech/NASA, Space Science Institute

Here are the final images from Cassini’s last look around the Saturn system.

In its last hours before plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere, the Cassini spacecraft turned its cameras to the mission team’s favorite objects: the hydrocarbon-shrouded moon Titan, the geyser moon Enceladus and, of course, the majestic rings.

After sending these raw images back to Earth, Cassini reconfigured itself to stream data efficiently in near–real time. Image files are too big to send in this mode, so these are the last pictures Cassini will ever show us. But it will send back unprecedented information about Saturn’s atmosphere right up until the end.

The tiny moon Enceladus, which has a liquid sea below its icy surface and spews geysers of water into space, set behind Saturn as Cassini watched:

JPL-Caltech/NASA, Space Science Institute

Saturn looms large in this Sept. 14 raw image from the Cassini spacecraft:

JPL-Caltech/NASA, Space Science Institute

The hazy moon Titan is the largest in the Saturn system. Its gravity nudged Cassini onto its doomed orbit when the spacecraft flew by on September 11:

JPL-Caltech/NASA, Space Science Institute

Lisa Grossman is the astronomy writer. She has a degree in astronomy from Cornell University and a graduate certificate in science writing from University of California, Santa Cruz. She lives near Boston.

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