Last adventure ahead for NASA's Cassini spacecraft at Saturn

Cassini Saturn Mission

As it continues to make some of its final flybys of the Saturn system, the Cassini spacecraft hasn't entirely forgone looking back toward its home planet, Earth.

As per NASA, the part of Earth facing Cassini at the time was the southern Atlantic Ocean.

While space fans can not wait to hear about Cassini's wealth of data scientists will soon start sifting through, the space probe itself will sink into the unfamiliar space between Saturn and its rings.

On April 22, Cassini's journey towards the 1,200-mile-wide gap between Saturn's atmosphere and its rings will start. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL.

The Grand Finale will begin on April 21, 2017, in which Cassini will have a flyby of Saturn's moon Titan.

The probe will make the first of these gap runs next Wednesday, repeating the dive every six and a half days through to its death plunge, scheduled to occur at about 10:45 GMT on 15 September.

On Saturday, the probe will embark on its grand finale, the final phase of its mission. Cassini will perform the final close flyby on April 21 before crashing down in Saturn's atmosphere. For the next five months, Cassini will explore the region between Saturn and its rings, where no man-made artefact has ever previously been. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, manages the mission for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Cassini has been capturing dramatic close-up images of Enceladus that not only help astronomers understand its geysers, but that also reveal clues to the size and shape of the ocean below its ice shell.

It has since been orbiting the ringed planet and studying the Saturnian system in detail.

This fly-by won't provide any proof either way of life on Titan, but it will provide Cassini with its longest duration RADAR observations to look for changes in the liquid methane lakes and seas on Titan's surface. According to NASA, the rings captured in the image are Saturn's A ring and F ring; the A ring is at the top and the smaller F ring is at the bottom. She told us what Cassini will be doing, and why. It is the only other world known to us where lakes, rivers and waterfalls play a crucial role in shaping the surface, but unlike those on Earth, these are made of methane and ethane - the presence of which has led scientists to speculate about the existence of life in them.

"If the rings are a lot more massive than we expect, perhaps the rings are old-maybe as old as Saturn itself", Spilker said.


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