The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently shared a spectacular image of Saturn and its iconic rings, which are mainly composed of ice particles with a smaller amount of rocky debris and dust. The image, captured by the NASA Solar System Cassini spacecraft, shows graceful lanes of the planet’s rings.

According to NASA, around 146 moons orbit the planet, of which 63 are officially named. The spacecraft captured the image of the planet at a distance of approximately 581,000 miles (935,000 km) from Saturn.

The black-and-white view of the planet was captured when its half portion was lit with Sun rays. Closely observing the photo would help viewers identify Saturn’s moon Pandora, which is visible as a tiny dot in the upper right of the image, nearly beyond the F ring.

“Saturn’s graceful lanes of orbiting ice — its iconic rings — wind their way around the planet to pass beyond the horizon in this view taken on Aug. 12, 2017, by the wide-angle camera on the @NASASolarSystem Cassini spacecraft,” wrote NASA while sharing the image on Instagram.

NASA images never fail to amuse anyone. Several users shared their views on the NASA image.

“Saturn it’s really pretty,” commented an Instagram user on the post. Many other commented on the post to applaud the image taken during the Cassini mission to Saturn.

About Cassini mission to Saturn

Cassini was a joint space program to Saturn by NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency), and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). The three agencies had sent Cassini, a sophisticated robotic spacecraft, to study Saturn and its complex system of rings and moons in unprecedented detail.

The spacecraft also carried a probe, Huygens, built by ESA, to the Saturn system. Scientists were able to capture spectacular images of the planet with the help of the probe. Huyugens returned spectacular images and other science results during a two-and-a-half-hour descent through Titan, Saturn’s moon, crazy atmosphere.

The discovery of a global ocean, indicating the presence of water on Saturn, was one of the key discoveries of Cassini. The mission was concluded in 2017. During the mission, scientists discovered icy plumes spraying from fractures on Saturn’s moon Enceladus. These plumes led to the understanding that the moon possesses a global ocean of liquid water and indicates hydrothermal activity on the sea floor.

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Published: 27 Jun 2024, 02:04 PM IST

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