Cassini images delight star gazers

Saturn in all its glory

The Cassini-Huygens space craft beamed back yet another astonishing image of Saturn, released to the public yesterday. This will be the last full view of the planet because as the craft closes in on its target, the rings will be larger than its camera's field of view.

Saturn in colour: image from Cassini-Huygens spacecraftProfessor Carl Murray from Queen Mary, University of London and member of the Cassini Imaging Science Team said in a statement: "The images from Cassini continue to astound us with their clarity and detail as Saturn looms large in the field of view. As Cassini nears its dramatic rendezvous with the ringed planet in July we can expect a continual stream of images revealing the wonders of the Saturn system."

Launched in 1997, the Cassini-Huygens craft has travelled 3.5bn kilometers from Earth. It will enter orbit around Saturn on 1 July this year where it will collect data on the planet and its moons for the next four years. The Huygens probe will separate from the main craft on Christmas day 2004 before heading to the surface of Titan, one of Saturn's many moons.

Images will be posted to the Ciclops.org site. It is updated weekly at the moment, but is likely to have more frequent postings as the Cassini nears Saturn. ®

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