TECH

Cassini Images: Probe Returns Staggering Close-Ups Of Saturn's Atmosphere

'Cassini has once again blazed a trail.'

27/04/2017 17:50 BST | Updated 08/05/2017 16:11 BST

NASA has regained contact with Cassini after the probe completed its first death-defying dive in between Saturn and its rings.

As communications were re-established, the probe relayed a series of staggering close-ups captured during the 70,000mph plunge.

The raw files present Saturn’s atmosphere in unprecedented detail, revealing features that span just 150 metres.

NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SSI

Cassini took the photos during the first of 22 dives orchestrated to bring it closer to Saturn than ever before.

Jim Green, director of the planetary science division at NASA, said in a statement: ‘In the grandest tradition of exploration, Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft has once again blazed a trail, showing us new wonders and demonstrating where our curiosity can take us if we dare.”

The news was announced on NASA’s Twitter account. 

Cassini’s 12-year journey is due to come to an end in September after it completes its final dive.

NASA scientists are set upon ditching the craft in Saturn’s atmosphere before it runs out of fuel, ensuring it won’t crash into one of the planet’s 53 moons.

It’s thought that Enceladus and Titan might harbour life, and a satellite from Earth poses a major contamination risk.

NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SSI
NASA/JPL-CALTECH/SSI