Cassini entered Saturn's orbit on July 1st, 2004. And ever since, this NASA-ESA-ASI collaboration has delivered stunning images of the crown jewel of our solar system. The following 50 images were chosen from thousands of similarly great photographs from a full decade of exploring the sixth planet and its iconic ring system and moons.
Left: The Cassini spacecraft in the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility, at the Kennedy Space Center. Right: the Titan IVB/Centaur carrying the Cassini spacecraft awaiting for launch at Launch Complex 40.
Dark, cyclonic ovals cruise along flowing lanes of atmosphere of Saturn’s southern hemisphere. This GIF is comprised of 45 frames captured between February 6 to March 30, 2004 as Cassini coasted toward Saturn.
July 1, 2004: This is one of the first raw, narrow angle camera images of Saturn's rings taken after the successful completion of the orbit insertion burn and was cruising over the rings.
July 1, 2004: These two images of Saturn's rings were taken after the orbit insertion burn, when the spacecraft had crossed the ring plane and was looking upwards at the lit face of the rings.
July 3, 2004: This is Titan, Saturn's largest and the Solar System's second largest moon, encircled in purple stratospheric haze. This image shows a thin, detached haze layer that appears to float above the main atmospheric haze. This colorized image was taken one day after Cassini’s first flyby of the moon on July 2, 2004.
July 16, 2004: view of Saturn’s rings, draped by the shadow of Saturn. Three of Saturn’s moons can be seen here.
Nov 29, 2004: Mimas, a moon of Saturn, is seen against the cool, blue-streaked backdrop of Saturn’s northern hemisphere.
Jan 14, 2005: The surface of Titan. This series of images shows a flattened (Mercator) projection of the view from the descent imager/spectral radiometer on the European Space Agency's Huygens probe at four different altitudes. The Huygens probe was delivered to Saturn's moon Titan by the Cassini spacecraft.
Jan 14, 2005: Pebbles on Titan's Surface. The image was taken after the European Space Agency's Huygens probe soft-landed on Titan's surface. Objects near the center of the picture are roughly the size of a man's foot.
Jan 18, 2005: Mimas drifts along in its orbit against the azure backdrop of Saturn's northern latitudes in this true color view. The long, dark lines on the atmosphere are shadows cast by the planet's rings.
May 3, 2005: A simulated image, constructed from the measured optical depth profiles, based on Cassini's first radio occultation observation of Saturn's rings.
Jun 30, 2006: Titan glows with a 360-degree sunset as light scatters through its very extended atmosphere.
Nov 7, 2006: Saturn’s B and C rings shine in a diffuse, scattered light as Cassini looks on the planet’s night side.
Nov. 10, 2006: This image of the northern polar region of Saturn shows both the aurora and underlying atmosphere, seen at two different wavelengths of infrared light.
Aug 7, 2008: The cloud-streaked limb of Saturn in front of the planet's B ring. The ring's image is warped near the limb by the diffuse gas in Saturn's upper atmosphere.
Oct 20, 2008: Rhea's cratered, icy landscape with the dark line of Saturn's ringplane and the planet's murky atmosphere as a background.
Nov 1, 2008: This false-color composite image of Saturn's rings and southern hemisphere was made from 65 individual observations by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer.
Nov. 2, 2009: Dramatic plumes spray icy particles, water vapor, and organic compounds out from the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus.
Feb 23, 2010: More than 30 individual jets of different sizes can be seen in this image of Enceladus.
Feb 23, 2010: A view of Enceladus in a whole-disk mosaic of the geologically active moon's leading, or western, hemisphere.
Mar 29, 2010: In this view captured by Cassini on its closest-ever flyby of Saturn's moon Mimas, the large Herschel Crater dominates Mimas, making the moon look a bit like the Death Star.
Feb. 25, 2011: The huge storm churning through the atmosphere in Saturn's northern hemisphere overtakes itself as it encircles the planet in this true-color view.
July 6, 2011: These false-color images chronicle a day in the life of a huge storm that developed from a small spot that appeared 12 weeks earlier in Saturn's northern mid-latitudes.
Sep 12, 2011: A quintet of Saturn's moons–Janus, Pandora, Enceladus, Rhea and Mimas–come together in Cassini's field of view.
Dec 22, 2011: Saturn's fourth-largest moon, Dione, can be seen through the haze of the planet's largest moon, Titan.
Dec 18, 2012: Cassini delivered this glorious view of backlit Saturn while the spacecraft was in Saturn's shadow.
Mar 4, 2013: Venus appears just off the edge of the planet, in the upper part of the image. A bright spot near the E ring is a distant star.
July 19, 2013: The definitive composite image of Saturn, with seven of its moons, its inner rings, and, in the background, our home planet, Earth.