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Saturn Plunge Nears for Cassini Spacecraft

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:35 pm

NASA's Cassini spacecraft is 18 days from its mission-ending dive into the atmosphere of Saturn. Its fateful plunge on Sept. 15 is a foregone conclusion -- an April 22 gravitational kick from Saturn's moon Titan placed the two-and-a-half ton vehicle on its path for impending destruction. Yet several mission milestones have to occur over the coming two-plus weeks to prepare the vehicle for one last burst of trailblazing science.

"The Cassini mission has been packed full of scientific firsts, and our unique planetary revelations will continue to the very end of the mission as Cassini becomes Saturn’s first planetary probe, sampling Saturn's atmosphere up until the last second," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "We'll be sending data in near real time as we rush headlong into the atmosphere -- it's truly a first-of-its-kind event at Saturn."

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:36 pm

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Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA's Cassini spacecraft is shown heading for the gap between Saturn and its rings during one of 22 such dives of the mission's finale in this illustration. The spacecraft will make a final plunge into the planet's atmosphere on Sept. 15.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:37 pm



During Cassini's Grand Finale, the spacecraft will make 22 orbits around Saturn that carry the spacecraft over the planet's north before diving between Saturn and its rings.

 
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