NASA’s Cassini spacecraft beamed back some amazing photos of Saturn this week.
The images show Saturn’s northern hemisphere, including the planet’s hexagon. Each side of the hexagon is about as wide as Earth. A circular storm lies at the center, at the planet’s north pole.
“It’s taken years of planning, but now that we’re finally here, the whole Cassini team is excited to begin studying the data that come from these ring-grazing orbits,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a statement. “This is a remarkable time in what’s already been a thrilling journey.”
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Dec. 2, 2016, at a distance of about 400,000 miles (640,000 kilometers) from Saturn.
These images were obtained about two days before its first close pass by the outer edges of Saturn’s main rings during its penultimate mission phase.
More images of the planet, its rings and its moons will be coming in the weeks and months ahead.