Monday, January 30, 2017

Cassini's Grand Finale Tour at Saturn

Cassini is being prepared to dive into Saturn. The robotic spacecraft that has been orbiting and exploring Saturn for over a decade will end its mission in September with a spectacular atmospheric plunge. Pictured here is a diagram of Cassini's remaining orbits, each taking about one week. Cassini is scheduled to complete a few months of orbits that will take it just outside Saturn's outermost ring F. Then, in April, Titanwill give Cassini a gravitational pull into Proximal orbits, the last of which, on September 15, will impact Saturn and cause the spacecraftto implode and melt. Cassini's Grand Finale orbits are designed to record data and first-ever views from inside the rings -- between the rings and planet -- as well as some small moons interspersed in the rings. Cassini's demise isdesigned to protect any life that may occur around Saturn or its moons from contaminationby Cassini itself.
Image Credit: NASAJPL-Caltech

Cassini

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