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NASA Shows That Dawn On Saturn Is Breathtakingly Beautiful

This is something special...

27/06/2017 15:24 BST | Updated 27/06/2017 17:00 BST
NASA/CalTech

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has taken an absolutely stunning image of Saturn just as the Sun starts to creep over the horizon.

Proving that dawn looks infinitely better when you’re in space, the image was taken at a distance of around 1 million miles back at the end of March.

The huge distance also gives you a better understanding of just how massive Saturn really is. 

With a radius of almost 60,000km Saturn takes 29 Earth years to orbit the Sun, it’s also the furthest planet that can be seen with the naked eye.

Its rings are astonishing in their own right. Stretching as far as the moon is from Earth, and yet in some places less than a kilometre thick Saturn’s rings contain dust, ice and large rocks.

Cassini has spent the last 12-years orbiting Saturn helping scientists understand more about its composition as a gas giant as well as its astonishing ring formation.

Cassini probe

Cassini’s camera has also been able to show us some of the more alien features of Saturn including the plethora of orbiting asteroids and moons that ‘surf’ the ring’s surface.

As they pass over it their own gravity actually bends the ring causing a ripple effect in its wake.

NASA

After spending more than a decade orbiting through the gap between Saturn and its rings Cassini will begin its final mission.

NASA will be retiring the probe by crashing it into the surface of the gas giant.

In March Cassini started on the first of what will be 22 final dives before heading to its doom on the surface.