On April 26th, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made its first-ever “Grand Finale” dive through the gap between Saturn and the planet’s rings. As it shot around the gas giant, Cassini snapped a lengthy series of closest-ever photos showing the features of the atmosphere. Now NASA has combined those photos into a beautiful fly-by movie.
The 1-minute video above begins with a look at the vortex found at Saturn’s north pole. Cassini then travels south and captured rapid-fire 512×512-pixel photos along the way over the course of an hour, NASA says. In the video, Cassini gets closer and closer to Saturn’s clouds, reducing its altitude from 45,000 miles to just 4,200.
Here’s a 2-minute video by Tech Insider with more details on what the photos show:
This is only the first of 22 planned weekly dives around Saturn that’ll occur over the coming months, so we’ll be seeing a lot more eye-opening imagery very soon. Cassini will be “crashed” into Saturn on September 15, 2017, after a journey of nearly 20 years in space.