Ever wanted to see a close-up of Saturn? Well, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has sent home some impressive footage from its ‘dive’ past the ringed planet.
The sixth planet from the sun is 1,2-billion kilometers from Earth when the two are at their closest, so any information that Cassini manages to send back is priceless – and the result of years of hard work and patience.
The full one-hour-long movie shows observations from the craft’s southward motion around the planet, including visuals of the planet’s famous north-pole vortex, as well as the intriguing hexagon-shaped jet stream.
“As the movie frames were captured, the Cassini spacecraft's altitude above the clouds dropped from 72,400 to 6,700 kilometers,” says NASA. “As this occurred, the smallest resolvable features in the atmosphere changed from 8.7 kilometers per pixel to 810 meters per pixel.”
Perhaps most excitingly of all, NASA says that it used “conservative” camera settings to capture this footage, and that it intends to receive even better views in the near future.
Watch a snippet of the movie below, or visit this website for more.