NASA's Cassini probe bids farewell to Saturn with epic image

The spacecraft's swan song shows the planet in all its splendour.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft was always destined to be a doomed hero. After two decades in space, diligently exploring Saturn and its many strange and beautiful moons, operators deliberately crashed the spacecraft into the planet to make sure the moons remain pristine and unaffected by debris. But not before the spacecraft took one final, breathtaking look at Saturn, which NASA has shared in tribute to the dedicated spacecraft. The image, "Farewell to Saturn", is a combination of 42 natural-color pictures showing a sweeping view of the planet and its rings. The image even captures six of the planet's moons, including Mimas, the so-called "Death Star" moon.

"Cassini's scientific bounty has been truly spectacular -- a vast array of new results leading to new insights and surprises, from the tiniest of ring particles to the opening of new landscapes on Titan and Enceladus, to the deep interior of Saturn itself," said Robert West, Cassini's deputy imaging team leader at NASA. Good job, Cassini, what a way to go out.