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“Ring Rain” Pelted Cassini Spacecraft During Its Final Orbits

5 Oct 2018, 05:11 UTC
“Ring Rain” Pelted Cassini Spacecraft During Its Final Orbits NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft flamed out in Saturn’s atmosphere a year ago, but the data it collected during its final orbits led to an amazing discovery — ring rain! As the probe dove between the rings and upper atmosphere, it was bathed in a downpour of dust. Hsiang-Wen (Sean) Hsu (Colorado University-Boulder) and colleagues report that they successfully collected more than 2,700 pieces of charged bits of dust. Based on that amount, they estimate that about 2,205 pounds (one metric ton) leave the rings and enter Saturn’s atmosphere every second.

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