On September 15, Cassini’s 20-year-long exploration of the Saturnian system will finally — regrettably — come to an end. But even in its final act, the spacecraft has been sending back some of the most detailed images it’s ever taken. In one of its recent dives into the gap between Saturn and its rings, the spacecraft took a sequence of photos that offer an striking and unusual view of Saturn’s main rings — and now it’s a mini-movie.
According to NASA, Cassini took 21 photos within a span of just four minutes on August 20. Due to the vantage point of the wide-angle camera, it’s a bit tough to make out each of the big rings, but the most dedicated among us can see the ghostly C ring and brilliant B ring. An especially astute viewer will also notice the Cassini Division, or the 4800km gap between Saturn’s A and B rings. (Here’s a detailed walk-through that explores the location of each ring and their individual properties.) And no, you may not name your band “Cassini Division” because that’s what I’m calling my space goth Joy Division cover band.
It’s hard to look at the movie — or any of Cassini’s hauntingly beautiful images — and not think of something appropriately morose for its Grand Finale. I personally recommend syncing this video with the “Tears in the Rain” monologue from Blade Runner. Hopefully, these last few weeks of Cassini’s life will be its most memorable — we’ll be sad to see it go.