Cassini may have ended its mission, but Nasa is still analysing the bulk of data the spacecraft collected before plunging into Saturn's atmosphere and ending its mission. Every now and then, Cassini's dataset reveals something new about the giant planet including some picturesque views of its surface or rings.
On 8 January, 2018, the space agency revealed another breathtaking Cassini snapshot, one giving us a close look at Saturn's rings and its tiny walnut-shaped moon Pan.
The image, as described by Nasa, shows a translucent veil formed by the icy ring particles and the cute little moon, which orbits the planet every 14 hours and is the innermost of all known Saturn moons.
Pan, measuring about 35km across and 23km wide, can be seen peeking from within the Encke Gap – a 325km-wide opening in Saturn's A ring. The moon orbits within this opening and is responsible for maintaining it.
Beyond this, the wide cosmic wonder also shows the arc of Saturn and its cloud tops streaked with dark shadows cast by the rings.
Cassini's narrow-angle camera took the snapshot on 12 February, 2016 when the spacecraft was flying approximately 1.2 million kilometres away from Pan. The spacecraft orbited Saturn for 13 years and ended its mission on 15 September, 2017 with a heroic plunge into the planet's atmosphere -- a move aimed at keeping it from contaminating the planet's moons which could host alien life.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of Nasa, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency.