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NASA sees Saturn's ring in color like never before

All the hues of Saturn's B Ring pop out in a high-resolution color image sent back by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

This natural color view shows a portion of Saturn's B Ring.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Saturn's rings are ethereal structures made up mainly of ice and rock. NASA's Cassini spacecraft can see the striations and patterns in the rings. NASA released the highest resolution color images yet of a part of the planet's B Ring and it gives us a fascinating window into Cassini's world. 

The natural-color composite image shows shades of beige and gray intermingled with off-white lines and black streaks. "The pale tan color is generally not perceptible with the naked eye in telescope views, especially given that Saturn has a similar hue," says NASA. Scientists hope to learn more about what causes this coloration from Cassini's data as it nears the end of its mission.

The ringlets seen in the image vary in width. The narrow ones towards the center are about 25 miles (40 kilometers) wide, while the fatter bands towards the edge are up to 300 miles (500 kilometers) wide.

Cassini snapped the images used for the composite on July 6 and NASA highlighted the result in a release on Thursday. The spacecraft will destroy itself in Saturn's atmosphere on Sept. 15, marking the end of the mission.