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Only 5 ring crossings left as Cassini nears end of historic mission at Saturn

12 Aug 2017, 20:06 UTC
Only 5 ring crossings left as Cassini nears end of historic mission at Saturn
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Saturn’s moon Prometheus lurks near the outer F ring in this new view from Cassini. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft just completed its 17th ring crossing at Saturn, part of the Grand Finale phase of the mission, leaving only 5 more to go before the mission ends on Sept. 15. As before, the ring crossing was a success, with Cassini sending back precious more data about the Saturn system even though time is now running short. The ring crossings, bringing the spacecraft closer to Saturn than ever before, provide a unique way for scientists to learn even more about Saturn and its moons in a manner never before possible.

During each ring crossing, Cassini performs specific observations. For this particular one, these included:

Cassini’s Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) observed Saturn’s northern aurora, attempting to capture the entire auroral oval over several observations.
The spacecraft’s imaging cameras, the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS), performed the first of two final observations of one of Saturn’s tiny, irregular moons, named Kiviuq, which completes about 80 percent of one rotation during Cassini’s observation. The observation is intended to improve models of the moon’s shape and other of Kiviuq’s characteristics.
The ISS instrument ...

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