A new photo shot from NASA's Cassini spacecraft was released Tuesday, providing researchers with a never-before-seen glimpse of Saturn as it eclipses the sun.
The images were shot over the summer during an eclipse and cobbled together into a mosaic that shows Saturn backlit by the sun and Mars, Venus, and Earth as pinpricks off in the distance.
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"With the sun's powerful and potentially damaging rays eclipsed by Saturn itself, Cassini's onboard cameras were able to take advantage of this unique viewing geometry," NASA said in a statement. "This mosaic was made from pictures taken over a span of more than four hours while the planets, moons, and stars were all moving relative to Cassini."
"In this one magnificent view, Cassini has delivered to us a universe of marvels," Carolyn Porco, who leads Cassini's imaging team at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., said in a statement from NASA.
The Cassini spacecraft launched in 1997 and has been orbiting Saturn and collecting data and photographs since 2004. Researchers hope to learn more about the planet's ring structure from the new Cassini photos, according to Space.com.
"This mosaic provides a remarkable amount of high-quality data on Saturn's diffuse rings, revealing all sorts of intriguing structures we are currently trying to understand," Matt Hedman, a Cassini participating scientist at the University of Idaho in Moscow, said in a statement.
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