NASA's Cassini spacecraft is currently getting up close and personal with Saturn's striking rings and has recently returned a set of mesmerizing new images from its precarious path over the planet's northern and southern poles and disc-skimming route along the outermost F Ring.
The end is nigh for the intrepid craft, as its fuel level is running on fumes and will result in Cassini's dramatic plunge into the planet in September of 2017. But this productive probe that has been photographing the Saturnian system since 2004 is going out with a mighty roar as the craft began a series of 20 ring-grazing orbits on Nov. 30, continuing until April 22 of next year and resulting in some first-ever close-ups of the gas giant's famous discs and polar regions. Circling over and under Saturn’s poles, Cassini's elliptical orbit is fixed at an inclined position 60 degrees from the ring plane, where it will take particle samples and capture thousands of images to be dissected and explored by the mission's JPL ground team. During this 20-week period of intimate ring encounters, Cassini will also have the chance to snap some shots of the four miniature Saturnian satellites of Pandora, Atlas, Pan and Daphnis.
Have a look at these initial images of Saturn and its mysterious hexagonal polar storm taken from a distance of approximately 400,000 miles and tell us your spin around the rings crowned your day.