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NASA releases stunning new photos of Saturn's rings

Cassini captures most detailed photos yet of Saturn

NASA has released new, stunning photos of the icy rings around the planet Saturn.

The Cassini spacecraft is currently in its ring-grazing phase, which will be its final mission before scientists set it on a course to crash and burn in space.

The new pictures are the closest-ever view of the rings around the planet.

The spacecraft is helping scientists observe and understand the second largest planet in hopes of gaining insight into how Saturn and the solar system were formed.

Cassini was launched in 1997 and reached Saturn in 2004.

NASA said the planet's rings are about 30 feet thick and are made almost completely of billions and possibly trillions of chunks of ice, dust and rocks.

Cassini has also been studying Saturn's dozens of moons that orbit near the ring's edges, providing the first detailed images of small moons Pan and Daphins.

Cassini has made numerous discoveries, including one moon with indications of a heated ocean, and another moon, Titan, with a liquid methane sea.

Cassini will embark on its final mission in April, plunging between the rings before disappearing and burning in the planet's atmosphere.

NASA scientists expect that the best images of Saturn are yet to come.

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Casini has made numerous dramatic discoveries, including one moon with indications of a heated ocean...and another moon, Titan, with a liquid methane sea.