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Cassini offers best-ever view of Saturn’s rings

30 January 2017 Stephen Clark

A sequence of images captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft last month are the most detailed pictures ever taken of Saturn’s famous rings, revealing complex, unexplained bands and the movements of dozens of tiny icy moonlets spinning around the planet.

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Crash course?

20 December 2016 Astronomy Now

It may look as though Saturn’s moon Mimas is crashing through the rings in this image taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, but Mimas is actually 45,000 kilometres (28,000 miles) away from the rings.

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Cassini beams back first images from new orbit

9 December 2016 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has sent to Earth its first views of Saturn’s atmosphere since beginning the latest phase of its mission. The new images show scenes from high above Saturn’s northern hemisphere, including the planet’s intriguing hexagon-shaped jet stream.

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It’s chaos at Saturn’s moon Hyperion

5 December 2016 Astronomy Now

The moon Hyperion tumbles as it orbits Saturn. Hyperion’s spin axis has a chaotic orientation in time, meaning that it is essentially impossible to predict how the moon will be spinning in the future.

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Icy moon Mimas dwarfed by Saturn’s rings

30 November 2016 Astronomy Now

Saturn’s icy 246-mile-wide moon Mimas (near lower left) appears tiny by comparison to the planet’s rings, but scientists think the all of the small, icy particles spread over a vast area that comprise the rings are no more than a few times as massive as Mimas. The view was obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft at a distance of approximately 564,000 miles from Saturn.

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Saturn probe prepares for dramatic ring-grazing orbits

23 November 2016 Astronomy Now

A thrilling ride is about to begin for NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Engineers have been pumping up the probe’s orbit around Saturn this year to increase its tilt with respect to the planet’s equator and rings. And on 30 November, following a gravitational nudge from Saturn’s moon Titan, Cassini will enter the first phase of the mission’s dramatic endgame.

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The details are in the rings

12 November 2016 Astronomy Now

This view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft showcases some of the amazingly detailed structure of Saturn’s rings. This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from about four degrees above the ring plane.

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