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Rings ready for their close-up

BBC Science

A new close up image of Saturn and its rings taken by the Cassini space probe reveals just how close the European-US mission now is to its target. Saturn's famous rings can be seen casting threadlike shadows on the gas giant's northern hemisphere.

The craft is now 19,565 million km from the planet, having travelled more than 3 billion km since its 1997 launch. Cassini will insert into Saturn's orbit on 30 June and release its piggybacked Huygens probe in January next year. Huygens will attempt to land on the oily seas of Saturn's major moon, Titan.

Saturn's thin, outermost F-ring can easily be discriminated in the new image.

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