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Cassini’s Greatest Hits: The Spacecraft’s Best Images of Saturn

The Saturn System

Space Institute/JPL/NASA

The great orb of Saturn appears to float in the middle of the enormous ring system in this image from Cassini taken May 21, 2016.. The planet casts a short shadow on the rings, which indicates the changing seasons. When this image was taken, the planet was nearing its northern-hemisphere solstice, which took place in May 2017, when the planet's shadow grew even shorter and barely touched the B ring, one of the system's inner rings.

A Trick of Perspective

Space Institute/JPL/NASA

Saturn's moon Tethys seems to hang directly above the planet's north pole in this image, but it's just a trick of perspective. Tethys is actually on the farside of Saturn in this image, and the moon orbits almost exactly in the planet's equatorial plane. In the image, taken Jan. 26, 2015, Tethys was brightened by a factor of three relative to Saturn to enhance the moon's visibility.

A Close-Up

Space Institute/JPL/NASA/Getty

This sidelong view of Saturn, taken Jan. 18, 2017, captures a hint of the planet's sunlight side. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 630,000 miles (1.01 million km) from Saturn; Cassini spent most of its 13 years in the Saturn system more than 1 million miles (1.6 million km) from the planet.

A View from Above

Space Institute/JPL/NASA/Getty

On May 21, 2016, the Cassini probe captured this image while looking down on the planet. Saturn's shadow stretches more than halfway across the rings, and the hexagonal storm around the planet's north pole is visible. The probe took this image when it was approximately 2 million miles (3.2 million km) from Saturn.

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Calla Cofield
Calla Cofield joined the crew of Space.com in October, 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world. She'd really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Prior to joining Space.com Calla worked as a freelance science writer. Her work has appeared in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter