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Cassini and the 22 penultimate diving of the century

1 May 2017

 

Cassini mapping Saturn’s magnetosphere and the effect of the solar wind upon it (much of space is latent but dynamic)—NASA art image

NASA Space Probe Cassini will soon end its spectacularly successful mission of investigating Saturn as well as two of its moons—Enceladus and Titan (with the Huygen lander earning the title of first landing on a foreign moon). Nearly two decades on duty with seven of them in travel to the objective Cassini has gathered information on Saturn, its rings, moons as well as gravitational and magnetic fields. Saturn is a space laboratory for a solar system with its gaseous center surround by orbiting masses forming into rings and moons.

Cassini—NASA art image

Cassini and the rings of Saturn—NASA art image

Cassini in orbit over Saturn—NASA art image

Cassini’s view of the (many) rings of Saturn—NASA image

Earth (the white dot) viewed through the rings of Saturn—NASA image

Cassini’s mission is nearly complete. Dwindling maneuvering fuel supplies will soon render the spacecraft uncontrollable though its nuclear power can continue on for quite some more time. NASA has decided to place the probe into an orbit which has crossed the poles, investigated the geysers of Enceladus and is now orbiting inside the rings for 22 orbits—then the grand finale— the last plunge to take place in September taking images while diving into Saturn’s atmosphere.

Cassini as imagined by a NASA artist diving between Saturn and its rings—NASA art image

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