Colourful Saturn, getting closer
As Cassini-Huygens coasts into the final month of its nearly seven-year trek, the serene majesty of its destination looms ahead.
The spacecraft's cameras are functioning well and continue to return stunning views from Cassini-Huygens position, 1200 million kilometres from Earth and now 15.7 million kilometres from Saturn.
In this narrow-angle camera image from 21 May 2004, the ringed planet displays subtle, multi-hued atmospheric bands, coloured by yet undetermined compounds. Mission scientists hope to determine the exact composition of this material.
This image also offers a preview of the detailed survey Cassini will conduct on the planet's dazzling rings. Slight differences in colour denote both differences in ring particle composition and light-scattering properties.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a co-operative project of NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency.
Credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute