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TheSpaceWriter's Ramblings

Cassini’s Grand Finale Begins

13 Aug 2017, 01:12 UTC
Cassini’s Grand Finale Begins
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

I don’t want to sound like one of those crazies standing in the public square holding a sign that says, “The End is Nigh”. However, in the case of the Cassini spacecraft, the end really is near. In fact, it’s five orbits away. What Cassini mission scientists plan is a grand finale as the spacecraft makes its last orbits and plunges into the planet’s atmosphere. The last of its trips around Saturn begins on Sunday (August 13), and these orbits will see it dip very close to the planet. Cassini’s final orbit will take it into the planet on September 15, 2017. Just before that, a quick gravity maneuver with Titan will slow the spacecraft down. That prepares it for the final dive into Saturn. On the way in, all its science instruments will be turned on. They’ll transmit data until it breaks up under the dense atmospheric pressure of the lower atmosphere. The idea is to get information about a region of Saturn hitherto unexplored and Cassini will be the first official probe of the planet’s atmosphere.
Leading Up to the Finale
An artist’s concept of the Cassini mission as it begins its final five orbits of Saturn. Courtesy ...

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