NASA's Cassini spacecraft will go out in blaze of glory Friday
15 September, 2017, 00:37 | Author: Lorena Waters
Unfortunately, Cassini's cameras will shut down on Thursday, so there will be no live images of its final moments. The Cassini mission is a cooperative project between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency. "When we started I was kind of the tutor and he the tutoree", Larry said. Which means that, while Cassini is soon to become one with Saturn, its scientific legacy won't be going up in flames any time soon.
You can track the current position of Cassini, relative to Saturn, on NASA's live-updating tracker. The end of the mission will be marked by the last stream of data that comes in 83 minutes after it is beamed from Cassini. "It will radiate across the solar system for almost an hour and a half after Cassini itself has gone".
Mission scientists and operators are giving Cassini this fiery send-off on goal. It's final data will be received on Earth at NASA's Deep Space Network complex in Canberra, Australia.
Cassini's final dive will end a mission that provided groundbreaking discoveries that included seasonal changes on Saturn, the moon Titan's resemblance to a primordial Earth, and a global ocean on the moon Enceladus with ice plumes spouting from its surface.
The Cassini-Huygens mission has witnessed countless breath-taking phenomena.
What discoveries has it made?
Other space stations in Madrid and California will also help monitor Cassini.
Niebur and Spilker were quick to remind how different technology was in the 1990s. Voyager 2 is close behind but on a different trajectory. "In so many ways, we've really rewritten the textbooks on the Saturn system - literally".
"Just as I was inspired as a kid by watching Apollo 11 land on the Moon, today's school kids have the opportunity to witness the spectacular finale of Cassini zooming through Saturn's rings". Scientists wanted one last look to see if Peggy had broken free of its ring.
"Landing on Titan revealed a cold, but surprisingly Earth-like landscape, shaped by the flow of methane rather than water, and the icy volcanoes of Enceladus hint at a habitat for life below its frozen surface". Saturn's many moons contribute material to Saturn's rings and magnetosphere, but these same moons also collect material that forms the rings and magnetosphere.
Cassini is being driven into Saturn's atmosphere to ensure that the probe doesn't contaminate the moons Titan and Enceladus - both of which may be capable of supporting life - with microbes from Earth. Instead, Cassini will be configured to run only those instruments that can sense the planet's near-space environment, such as its magnetic field, or that can sample the chemical composition of its gases.
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