NASA releases 'Alpha and Omega', images of Saturn captured during the beginning and end of the Cassini mission

The two images shows how far Cassini traveled during the sixteen years it spent in the vicinity of Saturn.

NASA has released an image captioned "Alpha and Omega", which is made up of one of the earliest images the Cassini spacecraft took of Saturn, along with one of the last images captured before the spacecraft plunged into the skies of the gas giant, burning up in the atmosphere like a shooting star in the process.

The image on the left was taken in 2001, roughly six months after Cassini went past Jupiter assisted by the gravity of the most massive planet in the solar system.

NASA releases Alpha and Omega, images of Saturn captured during the beginning and end of the Cassini mission

Image: NASA.

The image on the right shows the site where Cassini ended its mission by crashing into Saturn, to prevent contamination of the moons of Saturn, which could harbour life.

There was no fuel left onboard on the spacecraft for NASA to continue to maintain control of the spacecraft. Cassini ended its mission on 15 November, shortly before which the image on the right was captured. The image on the left was taken at a distance of 510 million km from Saturn, while the image on the right was taken at a distance of about 579,000 km from Saturn.

The two images show how far Cassini travelled during the sixteen years it spent in the vicinity of Saturn. The image on the left was captured using the higher resolution narrow-angle camera, while the image on the right was captured using the lower resolution wide angle camera.

Although the spacecraft has ended its mission, the spacecraft has beamed back more images and data than scientists were able to process during the mission. The data sent back by Cassini is expected to continue to provide material to researchers for at least another sixty years, and NASA has been releasing processed images from the mission after the spacecraft ended its mission.

NASA recently released "A Farewell to Saturn", a mosaic of images capturing the entire planet, which is expected to be one of the last full images of Saturn till a subsequent probe from Earth visits the gas giant.

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