Cassini's 'Last Dance': A final portrait at Saturn
In the early afternoon of 13 September 2017, the venerable and much-loved Cassini probe captured this final portrait of Saturn and its main ring system, before plummeting to fiery destruction in the planet's hazy atmosphere just 48 hours later. Using its Wide-Angle Camera (part of the Imaging Science Subsystem), Cassini snapped 75 photos: these images can be grouped into a grid of 6 by 2. Each footprint in that grid was covered with both long and short exposures via the red, green, and blue filters, plus a longer exposure shuttered through the clear filter. The veteran spacecraft took nearly two hours to collect these data: starting at 1:09 PM and concluding at 3:17 PM (all times are UTC). Only three moons—Enceladus, Janus and Mimas—can be picked out in the uncalibrated and compressed data.
NASA / JPL-Caltech / SSI / Ian Regan
Cassini's 'Last Dance': A final portrait at Saturn (annotated)