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Sci-Tech

NASA turns Cassini's first Saturn dive into a gripping movie

Fly along with Cassini through a dramatic NASA video showing the spacecraft's view of Saturn during its first dive.

Cassini is millions and millions of miles away, engaged in a daring string of dives through the empty space between Saturn and its rings. But we can pretend we're riding right along with the spacecraft thanks to a new NASA movie sequence that strings together Cassini's views from its first dive on April 26.

NASA released the video on Wednesday and it gives a good look at the distinctive hexagonal cloud pattern located at Saturn's north pole. "I was surprised to see so many sharp edges along the hexagon's outer boundary and the eye-wall of the polar vortex," said Cassini imaging team associate Kunio Sayanagi.

The video also shows an animation of Cassini's path and the swathe of the planet it was able to image during the dive. It's represents a small section of the hulking gas giant. According to NASA, "more than 700 Earths could fit inside Saturn."

Cassini launched in 1997 as a joint project between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. Its epic mission spent studying Saturn and its moons is scheduled to end this September when it destroys itself in the planet's atmosphere.