CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Sci-Tech

Sorry, this mind-blowing view wasn't Cassini's last image

NASA's Cassini spacecraft did snap a final image, but it isn't as glorious as some people think.

This is actually an artist's concept of Cassini's Grand Finale dive.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

There's a thing of beauty making the rounds on Twitter right now. People are sharing a stunning look at the clouds of Saturn as the planet's famous rings radiate outward and a hint of NASA's Cassini spacecraft appears near the bottom. 

The caption reads something like "Cassini's last image before entering Saturn's atmosphere and burning up" or "Cassini's last photo" or "Cassini's last image before plunging into Saturn's atmosphere." One of the tweets has garnered 33,000 likes

The image is downright gorgeous, but it's not what those Twitter users think it is.

The image making the rounds is actually an artist's illustration of Cassini during one of its Grand Finale dives over Saturn. NASA released the concept image in April 2017, but it has gained a new life through Twitter shares over the past week.

Cassini destroyed itself in Saturn's atmosphere at the end of its mission on Sept. 15, 2017 after two decades in space. The spacecraft's real last image came from a distance of 394,000 miles (634,000 kilometers) away as it made its final approach.

Cassini's last image in monochrome and natural-color views.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

"It looks toward the planet's night side, lit by reflected light from the rings, and shows the location at which the spacecraft would enter the planet's atmosphere hours later," NASA says of the final shot. 

Cassini's last view may not have the visceral impact of the artist's illustration, but there's a haunting beauty to the real image and how it signaled the bittersweet end to a magnificent mission.