News Worms
News Worms

NASA's Cassini spacecraft at Saturn nears finale

NASA's Cassini spacecraft at Saturn nears finale

Updated September 15th, 8:45AM ET: This article was updated to include Cassini's last image ever taken.

The circle shows where NASA believes Cassini burned up in Saturn's atmosphere. Once the thrusters are maxed out, there will be nothing left for Cassini to do. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) As it glanced around the Saturn system one final time, NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this view of the planet's giant moon Titan. En route, it has made multiple close approaches to the planet itself, travelling within the innermost of its rings, and sending back detailed images of the atmosphere.

And then there are the photos. The "plunge" ensures Saturn's moons will remain pristine for future exploration.

Despite 13 years in Saturn's orbit, there are still many unanswered questions.

During the hours before the end, Cassini sent its last batch of images showing Saturn and its moons, and then it streamed back data from instruments that sampled Saturn's atmosphere and its magnetic field. Just after 3:30 a.m. California time on Friday, Cassini entered Saturn's atmosphere, plummeting at a pace of about 77,000 miles per hour. In 2004, it arrived in the Saturn system, carrying with it a robotic passenger in form of the Huygens probe, contributed to the mission by the European Space Agency, or ESA.

"Even in those last few seconds, Cassini managed to continue its rewriting of the textbooks and its legend", JPL Director Michael Watkins said. Spacecraft operations chief Julie Webster has proof.

So, while facing the end, Cassini went out in a literal blaze of glory.

The epic mission's legacy will live on in the thousands of pictures it has taken and the data that will fuel new scientific results for decades to come.

Wonderful real-life photo of Jupiter captured by Cassini in 2000.

The mission was fantastic to be sure. I took this wonderful mission, this gold and white explorer in the realm of giant planets, for granted.

Sean Hsu, a researcher at the University of Colorado at Boulder who works on Cassini's Cosmic Dust Analyzer, flew out with his wife and two children to attend. "It has been a lot of new science, a lot of new data, and suddenly there will be no more data". Project officials invited ground telescopes to look for Cassini's last-gasp flash, but weren't hopeful it would be spotted against the vast backdrop of the solar system's second largest planet.

In a JPL auditorium minutes after the end, science planner Jo Pitesky gazed up at the video from mission control with a slightly stricken look on her face. "It won't go very deep, because it is not a probe created to go deep, but still deeper than anything else".

"There was speculation that the moon had something to do with the E Ring", McEwen says. It will just float in space. Leaving it to drift around Saturn, like two old friends chilling together unto eternity, was no longer an option because Cassini could contaminate the life on Enceladus if it accidentally crashed there. It's a new one.

Astronomical events have been on the public's mind as of late. Titan shone as a brilliant speck nearby.

Over the course of its long mission, Cassini's achievements were legion. It was kind of sad, but Cassini had been there for a long time and had taken such fantastic photos. "I'm hoping we can do it, I'm not going to promise".


editors' picks

September 16, 2017
Isco Admits Contact with Barcelona, Denies Listening to Offers
If Real does manage to get him sign a deal, then United could go in for Bale , whom they are chasing for quite sometime. Shaka Hislop and Alexis Nunes discuss the implications of Isco's new deal on Gareth Bale's future at Real Madrid .

September 16, 2017
U.S. urges China, Russia to put more pressure on N
On North Korea , Mr Johnson said Pyongyang had "defied the world" adding that sanctions would be imposed in a way that maximised the pressure on the regime.

September 16, 2017
Mourinho has 'fallen out' with Herrera and Pogba
Paul Pogba is expected to be out for up to six weeks due to a hamstring injury he sustained against FC Basel on Tuesday night. Meanwhile, Mourinho said left-back Luke Shaw had recovered from injury and suggested it was now a "question of form".

September 16, 2017
No floor test till September 20 in TN, orders Madras HC
The Madras High Court today ordered that no floor test will be conducted in Tamil Nadu Assembly till September 20. The Dinakaran camp claims a support of 19 MLAs.

September 16, 2017
School dormitory fire kills at least 23 in Malaysia
Malaysia has identified all 23 people who died in a horrific fire at an Islamic boarding school , an official said on Friday. These schools are unregulated by the education ministry and fall under the purview of the religious department.

September 15, 2017
Yu Yureka 2 With 16 Megapixel Camera Launched At ₹11999
As for the optics, the smartphone comes with a 16-megapixel rear camera and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. On the connectivity front, the device supports 4G VoLTE, Bluetooth, WiFi, dual-SIM and micro USB port.

September 15, 2017
Pregnant Maryland teacher who went missing found dead
A Maryland high school teacher who disappeared last week was found dead and her boyfriend charged with murder, police say. She had been "super-excited" about the new school year, her father, Mark Wallen, told reporters Wednesday.

September 15, 2017
'Iranian pilgrims' among 50 dead in Islamic State-claimed Iraq blast
Shortly after, a vehicle bomb was exploded at a nearby checkpoint, killing at least four Iranian citizens according to one report. Earlier the source put the dead toll at seven, including three Iranians, and said 20 others were wounded by the two attacks.

September 15, 2017
United States should be "beaten to death like a rabid dog": North Korea
According to 38 North, satellite images suggested the nuke test resulted in landslides occurring at the Punggye-ri test site. The North claiming to have detonated a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile.

September 15, 2017
European Union condemns Rohingya 'catastrophe' in Myanmar
Rohingya living in established refugee camps in Bangladesh have also been accused of joining the profiteering. Myanmar due to fear of persecution and are not illegal immigrants in India".