Exactly 15 years ago, on October 15, 1997, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft lifted off from Earth and left our atmosphere.Since that day the space probe has traveled more than 3.8 billion miles and sent back more than 300,000 images. Cassini is still going strong with plans to keep on keepin’ on until 2017.
During its travels, Cassini has swung around Venus twice, checked out Earth from space, and slipped by Jupiter on its way to Saturn, where the probe will end its trip in 2017.
See some of the 300,000 images Cassini has beamed back >
For the past eight years Cassini has been exploring Saturn, its rings, and several of its moons.
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.
Radar imaging shows lakes on Titan's north pole, likely filled with a combination of ethane and methane.
Scientists believe the enhanced jets seen in this image of Enceladus are are erupting geysers from possible reservoirs of water above 273 degrees Kelvin.
Energetic particles crashing into the atmosphere of Saturn's north pole creates a bright aurora seen here with an infrared image.
This image of the longest-lived electrical storm observed on Saturn was taken three months after the storm was detected.
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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