Cassini Spacecraft Ends Incredible Journey

16 September, 2017, 00:08 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Cassini's Grand Finale Livestream: Watch Spacecraft Plunge Itself Into Saturn Skies Online

NASA's Cassini spacecraft made its dramatic "death plunge" into Saturn's atmosphere Friday, ending an epic 20-year space journey.

Launched in 1997, Cassini arrived in orbit around Saturn in 2004 on a mission to study the giant planet, its rings, moons and magnetosphere. The Cassini mission gave scientists an unprecedented view of the sixth planet from the Sun. Pacific on Friday, Cassini officially entered Saturn's atmosphere and was noted by NASA as travelling 77,000 miles per hour.

The Space agency added, from that point, the spacecraft will begin to burn up like a meteor.

"One of the most attractive planets we can imagine", Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen said of Saturn during a press briefing. Cassini found that both the fresh coating on its surface, and icy material in the E ring originate from vents connected to a global subsurface saltwater ocean that might host hydrothermal vents.

The spacecraft's grand finale began at around 11:30am Irish time with the final pieces of data landing on earth 83 minutes later.

"The signal from the spacecraft is gone and within the next 45 seconds so will be the spacecraft", Earl Maize, the program manager said from mission control just after 4:55 a.m. local time.

"Through the Eyes of Cassini" is a free e-book released by NASA, which highlights the scientific key discoveries and intriguing images, sourced from its Cassini mission to the Saturn.

This ends Cassini's 13-year vigil of the ringed plant.

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Including Titan, Cassini explored a total of 19 Saturnian moons in detail.

Cassini's discoveries have fundamentally reshaped scientists' understanding of Saturn, and of the solar system's life-hosting potential.

Before its demise, however, Cassini is expected to beam back images and data gathered during its descent, which will be useful to scientists back at Nasa.

The images collected through the Cassini mission are split into the in five parts. On the evening of 14 September, the Cassini spacecraft sent back its final images of the Saturn system.

The ESA-built Huygens probe travelled with Cassini and was dropped in 2005 onto Titan, another of Saturn's moons.

During its historic exploration, Cassini discovered that Saturn's planet-sized moon Titan has three large seas, all located close to the moon's north pole, surrounded by numerous smaller lakes in the northern hemisphere.

"Even though we'll know that, at Saturn, Cassini has already met its fate, its mission isn't truly over for us on Earth as long as we're still receiving its signal", Maize said.

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