NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is currently in its “Grand Finale” stage, in which it’s diving between Saturn and its ring before plunging into the planet’s atmosphere for good.
Before that day comes in September, however, we have the spacecraft to thank for a gallery of gorgeous new photos.
The spacecraft this week sent back pictures of a storm on Saturn’s North Pole, which looks like a giant hexagon. At the center of this storm is a 1,250 mile-wide hurricane NASA refers to as The Rose.
“The spinning vortex of Saturn’s north polar storm resembles a deep red rose of giant proportions surrounded by green foliage,” NASA said of an image released back in 2013.
Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn for 13 years following a seven-year journey from Earth.
The spacecraft is running low on the rocket fuel used for adjusting its course. If left unchecked, this situation would eventually prevent mission operators from controlling the course of the spacecraft.
But it’s not the lack of fuel that will take Cassini into Saturn’s atmosphere. NASA has decided to plunge the spacecraft into Saturn in order to avoid a collision with the planet’s two moons, Enceladus and Titan, which data has revealed may contain habitable environments for life.
NASA currently has a countdown timer on its website for Cassini’s end of mission, which will occur on September 15.