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Saturn: January 2017



Newly released images showcase the incredible closeness with which NASA's Cassini spacecraft, now in its "ring-grazing" orbits phase, is observing Saturn's dazzling rings of icy debris.


No Earth-based telescope could ever capture a view quite like this. Earth-based views can only show Saturn's daylit side, from within about 25 degrees of Saturn's equatorial plane.


The wavemaker moon, Daphnis, is featured in this view, taken as NASA's Cassini spacecraft made one of its ring-grazing passes over the outer edges of Saturn's rings on Jan. 16, 2017. This is the closest view of the small moon obtained yet.


After a two-and-a-half-hour descent, the metallic, saucer-shaped spacecraft came to rest with a thud on a dark floodplain covered in cobbles of water ice, in temperatures hundreds of degrees below freezing.


Floating high above the hydrocarbon lakes, wispy clouds have finally started to return to Titan's northern latitudes.