NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is in the final one-and-a-half-year stage of its historic journey to gas-ringed gas giant Saturn, so we will soon lose a “live” look to a mysterious planet, even if scientists and years of processing data from Cassini take decades. .
Thanks to such a long mission around Saturn, we have an incredible fortune to observe the long-term seasonal changes on this planet. So, the pictures taken on February 19 show how the northern hemisphere of the planet is approaching the solstice, and its north pole just bathes in the sun.
As was emphasized in the release of NASA, these images are significantly different northern slope to the right by twenty degrees. Typically, images of Saturn appear before us focused on its north pole, pointing conditionally at its top, and the rings are shown in the horizontal plane. But in this case, since the terminator (the line separating day and night on the surface of the planet) has just such a seasonal bias, the scientists decided to present the images in a similar “slanted” form. A high-resolution version of the images allows you to see one of Saturn's moons Dione in the bottom left of the image. Cassini is 1, 9 million kilometers from Saturn, seven degrees above the plane of the rings of the planet.
In the remaining months of the mission, Cassini will receive a series of commands that will send a spacecraft through the rings of the planet. This mission was called the “Opera Finale”, which will end with an enchanting collision of the apparatus with the upper layers of the atmosphere of the gas giant in September 2017. So enjoy the observations of Saturn now, because in the near future there are no definite plans to return to the orbit of Saturn.