0

Cassini Just Got Closer To Saturn Than Ever Before

The nuclear-powered spacecraft has orbited Saturn for 13 years and sent us back hundreds of amazing images.

All these photos are including close-ups of the gaseous giant, its mysterious moons and, of course, its famous rings.

Exploring the Saturnian system since 2004, Cassini did not disappoint anyone since then. We discovered new worlds like Saturn’s enigmatic moon – Titan, a moon that has its own atmosphere; Enceladus, a moon which has a subsurface ocean that can actually sustain microbial life.

As you know, the space probe will take five final orbits around the planet and dipping into Saturn’s atmosphere. The 20-year mission, for US$ 3.26-billion, will end on September 15, when the spacecraft will dive inside Saturn’s atmosphere and burn like a meteor.

Cassini is running out of fuel, fact that made NASA take this important decision. It’s better this way, the situation being eplained in the following quotes:

“As it makes these five dips into Saturn, followed by its final plunge, Cassini will become the first Saturn atmospheric probe. It’s long been a goal in planetary exploration to send a dedicated probe into the atmosphere of Saturn, and we’re laying the groundwork for future exploration with this first foray.” Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at JPL, said in a press release.

“It’s Cassini’s blaze of glory. It will be doing science until the very last second.” Spilker previously told Business Insider. “

Below you will discover what will exactly happen with Cassini spacecraft until 20 September:

Titan’s Gravity has the most important role in Cassini’s final orbit. This task will require large amounts of fuel.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft observing a sunset through the hazy atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. © NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft observing a sunset through the hazy atmosphere of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. © NASA/JPL-Caltech

Clouds and Hazes in Titan’s atmosphere. Of course, this discovery it’s made by the spacecraft.

Photo taken on March 21, 2017, and published by NASA on August 11. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Photo taken on March 21, 2017, and published by NASA on August 11. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This is an artist conception of what Cassini might picture during its final plunge into Saturn’s clouds:

© NASA/JPL-Caltech

© NASA/JPL-Caltech

Using Cassini’s narrow-angle camera, from a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (750.000 miles), this false color image was taken on May 18, 2017 and it shows Saturnian Clouds look like strokes because of the wavy way that fluids interact inside of its atmosphere.

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Scientists don’t know exacly how long Saturn’s days are because they’ve been unable to discern any tild between the planet’s magnetic field and its rotation axis. That can radically change our understanding of magnetic fields.

Close-up of the Rings of Saturn. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Kevin M. Gill

Close-up of the Rings of Saturn. © NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Kevin M. Gill

Cassini captured this beautiful view of Saturn’s moon Prometheus inside Saturn’s F ring:

May 13, 2017© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

May 13, 2017© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Next dip into Saturn’s atmosphere will be tomorrow. It will be able to see planet’s northen aurora and even measure the temperature of Saturn’s southern polar vortex.

The view above is a false-color composite made using images taken in red, green and ultraviolet spectral filters. The images were obtained using Cassini's narrow-angle camera on July 16, 2017, at a distance of about 777,000 miles (1.25 million km). © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute. [by ScienceAlert]

The view above is a false-color composite made using images taken in red, green and ultraviolet spectral filters. The images were obtained using Cassini’s narrow-angle camera on July 16, 2017, at a distance of about 1.25 million km (777.000 miles). © NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute. [by ScienceAlert]

This is Saturn on February 25, 2017:

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

On September 11, Cassini will need Titan’s gravity to help its final plunge, which will take place on September 15. 

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

You can read more about Cassini’s Grand Finale HERE.

 

source: ScienceAlert

Leave a Reply