Nasa releases stunning images of Saturn's rings

Saturn's outer B ring
Saturn's A ring
Saturn's outer B ring
Saturn's A ring

(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Nasa has taken stunning images of Saturn's rings which reveal unprecedented details of the icy particles orbiting the planet.

The images were taken by the Cassini spacecraft, which is making orbital dives around the outer edge of Saturn's main ring system, Science Alert reported.

The spacecraft is currently around halfway through its final 20 orbits.

Pictures show details as small as 550 metres, which is about the same scale as some of the tallest buildings on earth.

It is the first time scientists have been able to analyse the rings with such high-definition images.

The probe has previously been closer to the rings than it currently is, but at the time it was moving too quickly to take good-quality images, and the rings were only back-lit by the sun - so the images were dark and grainy.

However Cassini is set to plunge into Saturn this September, ending the mission. On the way down it will take new images of the innermost rings and gas clouds.

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