Giovanni Domenico Cassini, an Italian mathematician and astronomer born in 1625, was the first person to notice the division of the rings of Saturn in 1675.
Cassini captured the images Wednesday on the first of 22 scheduled dives through the gap.
As a precaution, Cassini's high-gain antenna dish was turned into the rush of particles to serve as a shield, and that meant the spacecraft had to be out of communication during the critical phase of the crossing.
Saturn's rings are made up of countless icy particles, any of which could have smacked Cassini during its hazardous dive.
The animated Google Doodle showed a cute cartoon Cassini taking photos of a smiling Saturn while plunging through its rings.
"We are just ecstatic", project science engineer Jo Pitesky said by phone from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
After almost 20 years in space and 13 years in orbit around Saturn, NASA's Cassini spacecraft begins its grand finale, going where no craft has gone before. The gap between Saturn's atmosphere and its rings is relatively narrow: 1,200 miles, or 1,900 kilometers. Models suggested that Saturn's ring particles still exist in that gap ― they would be small, "on the scale of smoke particles" but it wouldn't take much to wreak havoc on sensitive technology that's zipping along at Cassini's speed.
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This image shows features in Saturn's atmosphere from closer than ever before. The photos it took from the space between Saturn and its rings, which have just been released, are nothing short of breathtaking.
Cassini's mission is drawing to an end, as NASA prepares to crash it into the surface of Saturn itself.
Signals received by the Deep Space Network's Goldstone radio antenna in California confirmed that the bus-sized spacecraft survived its closest-ever encounter with the ringed planet.
"Cassini spacecraft has once again blazed a trail, showing us new wonders and demonstrating where our curiosity can take us if we dare", National Aeronautics and Space Administration planetary sciences chief Jim Green said in a statement.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft moving between Saturn and its rings. NASA's Cassini will draw its last breath as it eventually breaks up and melts completely and becomes part of Saturn.
The ring-crossing Cassini data will also enable mission scientists to measure Saturn's gravity and magnetic fields to study its interior structure; reveal its internal rotation rate; and provide a basic understanding of how giant planets form and how they work. They said there was a chance Cassini could be damaged if the particle concentration had been denser than they expected. "We could put it into a very long orbit far from Saturn but the science return from that would be nowhere near as good as what we're about to do".