NASA spacecraft captures beautiful photos of Saturn orbit change

NASA's Cassini spacecraft began its Saturn exploration journey in 1997, and it continues to provide the agency with photos of the planet. Earlier this year, it began a mission called the "Grand Finale," in which it goes into Saturn's rings and retrieves information far beyond what NASA originally intended for the spacecraft.

In December, Cassini sent photos of Saturn's new orbit. The latest views are from above the planet's northern hemisphere; Cassini will continue to survey the planet and eventually go deeper into the rings.

Check out other photos from Cassini

9 PHOTOS
Saturn's rings -- Cassini spacecraft
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Saturn's rings -- Cassini spacecraft
Three of Saturn's moons, Tethys, Enceladus and Mimas, taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on December 3, 2015 is shown in this NASA image released on February 22, 2016. Tethys (660 miles or 1,062 kilometers across) appears above the rings, while Enceladus (313 miles or 504 kilometers across) sits just below center. Mimas (246 miles or 396 kilometers across) hangs below and to the left of Enceladus. The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Handout FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
A natural-color image of Saturn from space, the first in which Saturn, its moons and rings, and Earth, Venus and Mars, all are visible, is seen in this NASA handout taken from the Cassini spacecraft July 19, 2013 and released November 12, 2013. The image captures 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across Saturn and its inner ring system, including all of Saturn's rings out to the E ring, which is Saturn's second outermost ring. Cassini's imaging team processed 141 wide-angle images to create the panorama. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Handout via Reuters (OUTER SPACE - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
The Saturn moons Mimas and Pandora are shown in this handout photo taken May 14, 2013 by NASA's Cassini spacecraft and provided by NASA July 30, 2013. Pandora's small size means that it lacks sufficient gravity to pull itself into a round shape like its larger sibling, Mimas. Researchers believe that the elongated shape of Pandora (50 miles, or 81 kilometers across) may hold clues to how it and other moons near Saturn's rings formed. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Handout via Reuters (UNITED STATES - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Saturn's rings and our planet Earth and its moon are seen in this image taken by the wide-angle camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft July 19, 2013. Earth, which is 898 million miles (1.44 billion km) away in this image, appears as a blue dot at center right; the moon can be seen as a fainter protrusion off its right side. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Handout via Reuters (OUTER SPACE - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
The wide-angle camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn's rings and planet Earth and its moon in the same frame in this rare image taken on July 19, 2013 courtesy of NASA. A robotic space probe nearly 900 million miles (1.5 billion km) from Earth turned its gaze away from Saturn and its entourage of moons to take a picture of its home planet, NASA said on Monday. The resulting image shows Earth as a very small, blue-tinged dot - paler and tinier than in other photos - overshadowed by the giant Saturn's rings in foreground. REUTERS/NASA/Handout via Reuters (OUTER SPACE - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY ENVIRONMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
The Cassini spacecraft took this mosaic of the planet Saturn and its rings backlit against the Sun on October 17, 2012 using infrared, red and violet spectral filters that were combined to create an enhanced-color view, in this handout image courtesy of NASA. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera at a distance of approximately 500,000 miles (800,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Also captured are two of Saturn's moons: Enceladus and Tethys. Both appear on the left side of the planet, below the rings. Enceladus is closer to the rings; Tethys is below and to the left. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Handout (OUTER SPACE - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
An image captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft February 4, 2007 and released on March 1, 2007 shows never-before-seen views of Saturn. EDITORIAL USE ONLY REUTERS/NASA/Handout (UNITED STATES)
NASA handout image shows Saturn's atmosphere and its rings in a false color composite made from 12 images, captured on January 12, 2011. The mosaic shows the tail of Saturn's huge northern storm. The images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light. REUTERS/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
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"This is it, the beginning of the end of our historic exploration of Saturn," Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team lead at Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado, told NASA. "Let these images -- and those to come -- remind you that we've lived a bold and daring adventure around the solar system's most magnificent planet."

Here are Cassini's first photos:

Credit: NASA

Cassini will continue to go further and further into the rings of Saturn until late April 2017.

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