Cassini’s latest fly-by captures Saturn’s creepy but fascinating surface

cassini saturn fly over april 26 2017

NASA has this week published new images of Saturn’s surface taken by its Cassini spacecraft in April.

The decade-old craft, embarking on the first stage of it final mission, dipped between the planet’s cloudbase and its ring network.

Tracking with its wide-angle camera across Saturn’s surface, Cassini captured the odd lines and blotches on the gas giant from its north pole to equator. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the craft captured over an hour of footage.

Cassini flew within 7000km of Saturn’s cloudbase, capturing the angular lines of its ‘hexagon’, and its creepy north pole

And judging by that footage, Saturn is an angry, hostile, and heavily-weathered world.

Sharp lines on the gas giant’s cloudbase are the most noticeable feature on Cassini’s snaps. NASA’s not completely sure why these lines are so well defined.

The craft also captured the planet’s creepy, black void of a north pole sitting in the middle of its even-creepier hexagon.

“The hexagon is just a current of air, and weather features out there that share similarities to this are notoriously turbulent and unstable,” states a member of NASA’s Cassini imaging team, Andrew Ingersoll.

Remarkably, Cassini flew within 6700km of Saturn’s clouds at its lowest point. But Ingersoll explained that the team was “conservative with the camera settings”.

“We plan to make updates to our observations for a similar opportunity on June 28 that we think will result in even better views,” he adds.

Andy Walker, former editor


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