Incredible Cassini image reveals Saturn's wafer-thin rings
There's nothing like a fortuitously composed photo snapped by an intrepid spacecraft to demonstrate the size and scale of the universe. The latest pic shared by scientists from NASA's Cassini's mission might not reach the iconic status of Voyager 1's legendary Pale Blue Dot image, but does show a corner of our Solar System in a fascinating new light.
The Cassini spacecraft passed by the Saturnian moon Dione for the final time in August 2015, before eventually crashing into the planet's atmosphere some two years later. During that final flyby it captured some stunning imagery, showing the surface of the heavily cratered moon in the highest resolution ever captured.
An image shared today by researchers from the Cassini mission was taken during this same period. While it doesn't show the moon in such great definition, it is enlightening in its own way, with Saturn's rings captured almost edge on and Dione floating in front of them.
While Saturn's rings are thousands of miles across, remarkably, they measure only 30 ft (10 m) thick in most places. Dione itself is around 698 mi (1,123 km) across, which when positioned in front of the ring system in this way really puts things into perspective. The natural-color view was taken with Cassini's wide-angle camera at a distance of around 66,200 mi (106,500 km) from Dione.