Endings can often be bittersweet, none more so than those that remind us exactly what it is we’re going to be missing.
In the last days of life, before the planned NASA suicide mission, Cassini was afforded greater proximity to the planet than ever before.
Although this inevitably caused it to crash and burn after thirteen years of orbiting the planet, it was able to take a series of 42 new red, green and blue images.
The images cover the planet from one end to the other and feature the moons Prometheus, Pandora, Janus, Epimetheus, Mimas and Enceladus.
Although they were taken on 13 September (two days before the death plunge) image scientists have had to spend months assembling the images into a mosaic, to give us the entire picture.
And it’s made everyone at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory a little bit nostalgic about the spacecraft.
Elizabeth Turtle, imaging team associate, said: “It was all too easy to get used to receiving new images from the Saturn system on a daily basis, seeing new sights, watching things change.
“It was hard to say goodbye, but how lucky we were to be able to see it all through Cassini’s eyes!”
Launched in 1997, the Cassini spacecraft orbited Saturn from 2004 to 2017.
The mission made numerous dramatic discoveries, including the surprising geologic activity on Saturn’s moon Enceladus and liquid methane seas on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.
Robert West, deputy imaging team leader, said: “Cassini’s scientific bounty has been truly spectacular ― a vast array of new results leading to new insights and surprises, from the tiniest of ring particles to the opening of new landscapes on Titan and Enceladus, to the deep interior of Saturn itself.”