Picture:
Picture:
Getty / NASA

Saturn holds a unique place in our imagination of the solar system. Why? The beautiful rings, of course.

The gas giant is also the second biggest planet in our little corner of the universe, and it's so far away that it took the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft almost ten years to get there.

​The Cassini spacecraft has been exploring the planet since it landed on Saturn's moon Titan in 2005.

It's now in its so-called 'Grand Finale' phase, closer than ever before to its impending doom.

It has just completed the first flight through the previously unexplored gap between rings and planets. But it discovered something unexpected - the gap is almost totally empty.

Project manager Earl Maize, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, says:

Cassini will stay the course, while the scientists work on the mystery of why the dust level is much lower than expected.

​NASA has shared incredible images from the spacecraft's journey on the Cassini raw image website, which now includes 1,000 photos from this pass and 230,000 from the mission previously.

IFLScience.comhas helpfully made their way through this smorgasbord and converted some of the most spectacular images into GIF photo series....

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