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A Saturn Spectatular-Watch for next Enceladus Fly-by April 28th 2010

26 Apr 2010, 14:54 UTC
A Saturn Spectatular-Watch for next Enceladus Fly-by April 28th 2010
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

In six years of cruising around the planet Saturn and its neighborhood,
the Cassini spacecraft has discovered two new Saturn rings, a bunch of
new moons and a whole new class of moonlets. It encountered liquid
lakes on the moon Titan, water ice and a particle plume on the moon
Enceladus, ridges and ripples on the rings, and cyclones at Saturn’s
poles. Cassini also released a European space probe that landed on
Titan. And Cassini has sent back enough data to produce more than 1,400
scientific papers — at last count. The enormous array of science objectives and targets — moons, rings,
Saturn itself — makes it one of the most complex missions ever flown. Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2004 for a four-year mission, but it was
so successful that NASA gave it a two-year extension, to September
2010. Then, in February, NASA extended it a second time for what it
calls the Solstice mission, lasting until Saturn’s northern hemisphere
summer in 2017. If all goes as planned, on Sept. 15, 2017, Cassini will
die a warrior’s death, diving inside the rings for 22 spectacular
orbits on the fringes of Saturn’s atmosphere before plunging into the
planet.

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