Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft flies between Saturn and its rings, show pictures of planet’s clouds

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 12:21am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 9:46am

Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft has survived an unprecedented trip between Saturn and its rings, and has amazing pictures to show for it.

Flight controllers regained contact with Cassini on Thursday, a day after it became the first craft to cross this hazardous region. The rings are comprised of countless icy particles, any of which could have smacked Cassini.

The spacecraft’s big dish antenna served as a shield as it hurtled through the narrow gap, temporarily cutting off communications.

Cassini skimmed 1,900 miles (3,100 kilometres) above Saturn’s cloud tops, closer than ever before, and came within 200 miles (320 kilometres) of the innermost visible ring. Scientists say the pictures show details never seen before.

Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft goes into last dance of death with Saturn before dying in September

Twenty-one more crossings are planned — about one a week — before Cassini’s fatal plunge in September into the planet.