The Cassini Spacecraft Has Taken Some Incredible Images Of Saturn In Its Decade Circling The Planet

Exactly 10 years ago, on July 3, 2004, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft arrived at its main target: Saturn.

It had already traveled for about five years, having left Earth on October 15, 1997.

The space probe has traveled more than 3.8 billion miles and sent back more than 300,000 images.

During its travels, Cassini has swung around Venus twice, checked out Earth from space, and slipped by Jupiter on its way to Saturn and its moons, where the spacecraft has spent the last decade.

See the best images Cassini has beamed back >

From its observations, NASA has discovered some of Saturn’s moons contain ice, organic particles, and lakes full of hydrocarbons. The probe has even sent back images of these amazing landscapes.

In November 2016, Cassini will begin a series of orbits that will get it ever closer to Saturn, and by Sept. 15, 2017, Cassini will enter Saturn’s atmosphere, sending back the closest images of Saturn ever taken before the pressure and temperature of the gas giant’s atmosphere destroys the probe.

On its way to Saturn, Cassini snapped this portrait of Jupiter from 6.2 million miles away composed of 27 images.

It caught the first high-resolution images of Saturn's moon Lapetus showing its geologic structures.

Cassini has given many great, close-up views of Saturn's moon Titan. Those clouds cover an incredible sight on this moons' surface.

Radar imaging by Cassini has shown that there are lakes on Titan, likely filled with a combination of ethane and methane. Scientists have just seen these lakes can change over time.

The strange anomaly in Titan's seas is circled in red.

A Mysterious 'Island' Appeared In A Lake On One Of Saturn's Moons >

Saturn's moon, Pandora, has a rugged, irregular shape, with craters due to multiple impacts.

Saturn's eighth largest moon is Hyperion has a layer of organic dust on top of it ice.

Phoebe, another one of Saturn's moons, has an irregular topography.

Enceladus might be one of the most beautiful of Saturn's moons. This image, from 2008, shows the planet's tiger stripe fractures, or sulci, which indicate it's active under that icy surface.

That's been confirmed by other images. In this we can see the enhanced jets that are erupting geysers, from possible reservoirs of water under the surface of the moon.

Geysers crop up on the southern pole of the moon, where we've just recently found a huge underground lake of water.

Enceladus's water vapor jets, emitted from the southern polar region.

Discovery Of Underground Water Means Saturn's Moon Could Hold Life >

Titan, Saturn's largest moon, behind Tethys, a bright icy moon.

This infrared image of Saturn's north pole shows energetic particles crashing into the atmosphere, creating bright auroras seen here.

Strange meteorology on Saturn creates a 'string of pearls' that are clearing in its deep cloud system.

Monster storms called vortices, swirl in the atmosphere of Saturn. This giant one, which formed in 2010, left its mark all the way around the planet.

This image of the longest-lived electrical storm observed on Saturn was taken three months after the storm was detected.

With Saturn in front of the sun NASA found faint rings that were previously unknown to exist.

Saturn's rings in ultraviolet light show more ice in towards the outer areas. This observation give hints of how the rings were created and how they have evolved overtime.

False colour mosaic from 25 images of Saturn captures both nighttime, on the right side, and daytime conditions on the left side.

Saturn is enormous compared to its moons. Tethys is on the right side of the image below the rings, Enceladus is on the left side below the rings, and Pandora is barely visible on the left edge of the image right above the rings.

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