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Get lost in NASA's stunning Saturn rings panorama

Step into Cassini's shoes with a dazzling look at Saturn's rings taken before the spacecraft's death.

Detail of Saturn's rings, from a shot Cassini took not long before plunging to its end. The complete image shows the entirety of the main rings.

Detail of Saturn's rings, from a shot Cassini took not long before plunging to its end. The complete panoramic image shows the entirety of the main rings.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The Saturn-studying Cassini spacecraft may have plunged to its end on Sept. 15, but NASA is still releasing new data and images from the final days Cassini spent at the planet. On Monday, the space agency shared an epic panorama shot showing Saturn's impressive rings in one long image. 

Cassini captured the view looking upward at the rings on Sept. 9. "The entirety of the main rings can be seen here, but due to the low viewing angle, the rings appear extremely foreshortened," says NASA. When you enlarge the image, you can get lost in the geometric intricacies of the rings, which are made up of rock and ice. 

The panorama makes it feel like the rings go on forever, though NASA says they actually stretch out over a distance of around 175,000 miles (282,000 kilometers). 

Saturn's rings are named alphabetically in the order in which they were discovered. The C ring appears to the left and the A ring appears on the right-hand side of the picture. The darker area angling up near the center contains the planet's B ring.

Cassini launched back in 1997 as a joint mission from NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The spacecraft spent nearly 20 years in space before running low on fuel and reaching the end of its successful mission with a dramatic plunge into Saturn's atmosphere.