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Section 5

Our Cassini spacecraft peers toward a sliver of Saturn's sunlit atmosphere while the icy rings stretch across the foreground as a dark band.

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This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings and was taken on March 31, 2017. Cassini, which has explored the ringed planet and its moons since 2004, will make a fateful plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on Sept. 15, ending its long and discovery-rich mission. During its journey, the spacecraft has made numerous discoveries, including a global ocean with hydrothermal activity within the moon Enceladus, and vast seas of liquid methane on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Cassini began the final, dramatic phase of its mission, called the Grand Finale, on April 26, with the first of the planned 22 dives between Saturn and its rings. The final orbits are bringing the spacecraft closer to Saturn than ever before, providing high-resolution images and new insights into the planet's interior structure and the origins of the rings. During its final plunge into Saturn, Cassini will send data about the atmosphere's composition until its signal is lost. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
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