back to article Cassini sends back best ring-shots yet en route to self-destruct dive

The Cassini probe's commenced its death dive into Saturn's clouds, but is still sending back high-resolution of the gas giant's rings. The “ring-grazing” orbit phase began in November, with a burn in December that put it in position for its planned demise. Indeed, the probe's now completed 20 of the 42 orbits and in April will …

  1. bazza Silver badge

    Yet More Stunning Stuff

    No matter which outfit puts up a working space probe, they all succeed in sending back some stunning and often very unexpected stuff. I'm continually impressed, and most grateful. This latest batch is more of the same!

    Well done folks! BZ

  2. ColonelDare

    Nice pics.

    > "...scientifically stunning, but somewhat dark and noisy:

    The first image (especiall) looks rather dusty. Is this due to high energy particle tracks and the nasty levels of radiation, or does someone need to get up there and clean the lens?

    Brilliant anyway. Thanks JPL.

    ps Shown them to tRump yet ;-)

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Nice pics.

      KellyAnn: Hey Mr President, we've got some great shots from NASA for you to look at.

      Trump: WTF is this sh*t? I told Admiral Rogers to stop taking photos of people!

      KellyAnn: No, Mr President, that is the NSA, this is NASA.

      Trump: Well, ok. Am I in any of them?

      KellyAnn: (Only 3 years 11 months to go).

      1. Tom 64

        Re: Nice pics.

        Can we have one thread that doesn't mention Tronald Dump please?

        Stunning images! I wonder what the scratchy streaks are? They don't seem to be following the orbit of the rings. Aliens?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Nice pics.

          "Can we have one thread that doesn't mention Tronald Dump please?"

          I don't think so, appears to have become a permanent feature of Reg threads now. Like one o' them corn-ditioned reflexes. Soon it will become required, similar to saying 'Hello" when meeting people, and one day people won't even remember why they do it.

          "Hello Mr. Smith, long time no see! Your hair reminds me of Trumplethinskin, I have no idea why."

          "Thanks much, Henry! Block any refugees lately?"

        3. Tom Paine Silver badge

          Re: Nice pics.

          Those will be either star streaks or cosmic ray hits on the CCDs in the imaging camera.

      2. breakfast

        Re: Nice pics.

        KellyAnn: No Mr President, these are pictures of Saturn.

        Trump: What? I told you to before you have to refer to the vice president as "Vice President Pence."

        KellyAnn: ...

        Trump: Also he doesn't pronounce it that way. It's SatAN.

    2. EddieD

      Re: Nice pics.

      To quote from the NASA page "The view contains many small, bright blemishes due to cosmic rays and charged particle radiation near the planet."

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge


    Nah... that looks suspiciously like a close-up of an old 78 recording of Beethoven's 7th Symphony, second movement.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Rings?

      Yup. The 1948 EMI recording by Beecham, if I'm not mistaken.

      (Mine's the one with the concert guide in the pocket...)

  4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Lovely shots

    Will follow the swan song of Cassini with great interest. The whole Cassini-Huygens mission has been a great success. Excellent teamwork from NASA, ESA and ASI!

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: Lovely shots

      Does anyone else get that "there must be something in my eye" feeling knowing that these are Cassini's final couple of months?

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Lovely shots

        Yes. I have that same feeling. I'm also waiting with anticipation for the last photos as it's headed into the atmosphere.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: Lovely shots

          Indeed, although it also makes me feel rather old as I got to know over the 'net a bit a couple of the programmers who worked on it when I was a student. And when I think back how long ago that was (the wrong side of 20 years ago) it makes me think quite what a long undertaking all this has been, and indeed how successful it actually was.

          Can still remember one of them's signature tagline - "Why yes, in fact I am a rocket scientist..."

  5. Forget It

    Q: Why is the bath in a student flat like Saturn?

    A: Coz it's got permanent rings around it.

    [No Uranus replies please]

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Uranus was renamed Urectum in 2620...

      Will be renamed in 2620...

      Sorry, when was I?

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Uranus was renamed Boomholay in 1985 by the Spitting Image puppet of Alistair Burnett!

  6. wolfetone Silver badge

    Do you ever think, if machines had souls (which the poet inside me thinks they do), that Cassini is just happily snapping away, but noticing it's getting a bit closer to Saturn and asking NASA "Guys, you know I'm getting a bit closer to this thing don't you? Guys?".

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Obligatory xkcd ref

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Obligatory xkcd ref

        Obligatory pint for referencing xkcd.

    2. A. Coatsworth

      Obligatory "damn you!" for referencing *that* sad XKCD comic

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Obligatory "drown your sorrows" pint for the feels

    3. englishr

      Happier xkcd about machines with souls...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Feeling of doom

    How long before some nutter looks at the sensor noise, especially the particle tracks and announces they have "discovered" a major congregation of UFOs

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Feeling of doom

      Or... as it heads into the atmosphere someone sees something that resembles a large critter with a large mouth about to swallow the probe.

    2. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Feeling of doom

      Happens all the time on certain fora. Others *cough *cough take a ruthless zero-tolerance line on UFO nutters and the like, resulting in an exceptional signal to noise ratio (including forum members who are PIs or mission science or engineer ppl on a couple of spacecraft. No names, no pack drill)

  8. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up



  9. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. Potemkine Silver badge


    Cassini-Huygens is a very successful mission, congrats for all these stunning images to all the ones involved!

    Does anyone know if a future probe will explore Saturn's moons?

    1. Beachrider

      Future probes for Saturn...

      NASA doesn't have a funded project that plans to return to Saturn, right now. They are focussing on Mars, Europa, Asteroids and near-Earth measurements. Things always change, especially when commercial lift begins to deliver more non-NASA payloads for 'basic research'...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Future probes for Saturn...

        "NASA doesn't have a funded project that plans to return to Saturn, right now."

        I suspect the new Administration won't be too enamoured at funding what they will likely see as "blue sky research" either.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Time capsule

    Assuming that we as a species are able to colonize the solar system, imagine how high a price could be had for the actual Cassini Probe itself at that time. NASA is totally missing the boat here by not getting the probe out into some kind of large orbit that will keep a century or two.

    If they did that, then NASA's rights to it might easily become enshrined in space law. Thus the rights themselves would become valuable and could be sold. The rights could pass thru many hands, accruing greater and greater value over time, and someday that probe would be collected and cashed in, to then reside in a big museum where people would learn about this historic early probe from the dawn of the Space Age, while looking directly at it, just as it was at launch (except for the micrometeor holes).

    1. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Time capsule

      Assuming that we as a species are able to colonize the solar system,


      Assuming we live in a parallel universe with different physics and biology, or a different solar system architecture,.. we could just get a lift with Flash Gordon or Captain Kirk. Unfortunately, in the real world... not so much. At all.

      The fact that the Cheeto Messiah is apparently keen on the "Star Trek is a Documentary" approach to space probably means all the science missions get canned in favour of pissing money away on insane daydreams of flying to Mars in an Apollo CM-sized vehicle. If they turn off the Opportunity MER I shall... I shall do such things -- what they are yet I know not, but they shall be the terrors of the earth....

      EDIT: it occurs to me that the above line about terror may be misinterpreted by guys with low hairlines and itchy trigger fingers who don't recognise Shakespeare when they see it. Oh well

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Time capsule

        Step away from the keyboard and take some deep breaths.

        Please recall it was Obama who chose to block certain space programs. Trump hasn't done anything yet, and he hasn't gone negative like Obama at all, so what are you afraid of? Your shadow?

  12. Mark Simon

    Getting Better

    Every news item about Cassini is just better than the last. Stunning images and tremendously valuable new information.

    Even the swan dive will be amazing: we’ll finally get a better look at the surface of Saturn, and maybe even work out the length of a Saturn day.

  13. Tom Paine Silver badge

    Twitter follows

    Apart from the obvious Cassini-related Twitter accounts, @CarolynPorco (imaging Principle Investigator) is a good follow.

  14. Tom Paine Silver badge


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