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Cassini Scientists’ Favourite Photos

The story of Cassini–Huygens, a joint project from the American, European and Italian space agencies, spans almost 35 years from its inception. Launched in 1997, it spent the last 13 years in orbit around Saturn observing the giant planet, its extensive ring system and its many moons for almost half a Kronian year, from equinox to equinox, before its Final Plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn at 13:04 UTC on 15 September 2017.

This collection is a tribute to Cassini made by the very scientists who worked with the spacecraft's numerous instruments. We asked twelve of them (and an editor with a Cassini past) to select their favourite amongst the huge database of images obtained by Cassini and to write a short accompanying piece. The articles are classified in the various tags according to theme. It is impossible to do justice to Cassini's tremendous output with a dozen or so photos, but they give a nice comprehensive overview, showing examples from the various bodies of the Kronian system and environments, from rocky moons to magnetospheres.

This collection is complemented by some of the Cassini-related papers we have published in the first nine months of Nature Astronomy.

Cassini in Nature Astronomy

This Review gives an overview of some pivotal open questions on planetary formation and evolution, with water as the underlying common theme, and how the planetary and exoplanetary communities can help each other in addressing them.

Review Article | | Nature Astronomy

Cassini’s camera observed Titan from orbit at different angles (0–166°) and found that the planet looks brighter towards the night than at midday. This effect, linked to the scattering properties of Titanian haze, can also be present in exoplanets.

Letter | | Nature Astronomy

The NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini–Huygens mission ends in a ‘Grand Finale’ this month, after 13 years in orbit around Saturn. The ESA and NASA JPL project scientists Nicolas Altobelli, Linda J. Spilker and Scott G. Edgington give an overview of the last moments of Cassini’s operational lifetime.

Mission Control | | Nature Astronomy

Cassini has been a pinnacle of our quest for the understanding of the space around us. Its end symbolically marks the beginning of a period of relative dearth for Solar System exploration, but planetary science won’t stop thriving.

Editorial | | Nature Astronomy