Cassini’s Last view of Earth

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Earl Earl 1 year, 6 months ago.

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    Over the next five months Cassini will slowly spiral into Saturn and make the ultimate sacrifice which is sad. Before it does, it sent us a last picture of Earth:

    That little dot between the rings is us: humanity.

    Last weekend it took lots of pictures of Titan that scientists will be studying for months while Cassini gets closer and closer to Saturn. The last 22 orbits by Cassini will take it between the rings and the planet until, finally, it dives into Saturn and becomes a lump of glass and metal, an Ex-probe. When it dies, it would have been in space almost 20 years. So young and yet so bold.

    So long, Cassini, you’ll be missed.


    I am having a hard time emotionally with Cassini entering the last leg of its mission. I will miss my fresh views of the hexagonal storm on top of Saturn. 🙁


    In the meantime, however, Cassini is managing to out-Juno Juno. [LINK]

    NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is back in contact with Earth after its successful first-ever dive through the narrow gap between the planet Saturn and its rings on April 26, 2017. The spacecraft is in the process of beaming back science and engineering data collected during its passage, via NASA’s Deep Space Network Goldstone Complex in California’s Mojave Desert.

    As it dove through the gap, Cassini came within about 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers) of Saturn’s cloud tops (where the air pressure is 1 bar — comparable to the atmospheric pressure of Earth at sea level) and within about 200 miles (300 kilometers) of the innermost visible edge of the rings.

    The gap between the rings and the top of Saturn’s atmosphere is about 1,500 miles (2,000 kilometers) wide. The best models for the region suggested that if there were ring particles in the area where Cassini crossed the ring plane, they would be tiny, on the scale of smoke particles. The spacecraft zipped through this region at speeds of about 77,000 mph (124,000 kph) relative to the planet, so small particles hitting a sensitive area could potentially have disabled the spacecraft.

    The raw pictures that have come back…well…they’re almost incomprehensibly close looks at Saturn’s atmosphere. Wow.

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    On the day before the day before Cassini dives into Saturn, a good – if far too brief – story about how it all started. [LINK]

    Originally conceived in the early 1980s, Cassini and its companion Huygens lander contended with debilitating budget cuts, narrowly escaped cancellation more than once, and faced last-minute attempts to ground the spacecraft out of fear that a launch mishap would cause radioactive plutonium to rain down on Earth.

    Cassini followed in the footsteps of the Voyager and Galileo missions, becoming the last big spacecraft to explore the outer solar system. This is the story of how it got off the ground, told by the people who were there.

    I’m a sucker for these “oral history” articles…I just wish this one had been longer.

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