Cassini Saturn rings
Nature composite image of Saturn's ringsNASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Nasa has captured an up close view of Saturn's mysterious icy rings, showing off the highest-resolution colour images to date in full glow.

The first image, taken on 6 July, 2017 with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera, features the natural beige hue of the sunlit inner central part of Saturn's B ring – a portion lying somewhere between 98,600 and 105,500km from the planet's centre.

According to the Nasa, "the pale tan colour is generally not perceptible with the naked eye in telescope views, especially given that Saturn has a similar hue". Scientists still don't know the mystery behind the colour of these ringlets but hope to find some answers with Cassini's observations.

The agency also posted a colour-enhanced version of the same image. In this, blue are the areas where "the spectrum at visible wavelengths is less reddish (meaning the spectrum is flatter toward red wavelengths), while red colours represent areas that are spectrally redder (meaning the spectrum has a steeper spectrum toward red wavelengths)".

Enhanced colour image
Enhanced colour imageNASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The narrow ringlets in the middle of this image are about 40km wide, while the broader bands are about 300-500km in width. To make the observation clearer, there's also a third image that brings the 'true' and 'enhanced' versions together.

NASA Cassini
Combination of bothNASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini is living the last days of what Nasa has been calling the 'Grand Finale'. The spacecraft, which has been operating since 1997, will plunge into Saturn's atmosphere for a certain destruction on 15 September, giving away the last best views of the planet and as much data as possible.