Cassini concludes final fly by of Titan

by Fredrick Graves April 25, 2017, 13:01
Cassini concludes final fly by of Titan

Aside from planet Earth, the spacecraft also photographed the moon.

The flyby placed the spacecraft on the course for the final phase of its mission called the Grand Finale, wherein the probe will eventually dive into Saturn's atmosphere and transmit data about the ringed planet's chemical composition until it loses its signal.

"NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this view of the planet Earth as a point of light between the icy rings of Saturn on April 12, 2017", a NASA official said.

After almost 20 years of traveling in space, Cassini used the gravitational tug of Titan, a moon resembling primordial Earth, to hurl itself into a new orbit that will pass through an unexplored region between Saturn's cloud tops and its rings. The Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker said that the grand finale of Cassini-Huygens is just another brand new mission because the space probe will show the biggest discoveries on its final orbit.

"I think it is too early to eulogize Cassini on the occasion of its death, as incineration is five months away", Jonathan Lunine, director of the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science and a longtime member of the Cassini mission team, told USA Today.

Cassini received a large increase in velocity of about precisely 860.5 metres per second with respect to Saturn from the close encounter with Titan.

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After the flyby, Cassini reached the farthest point in its orbital path around the planet at 8:46 p.m. PDT on April 22. During the last dive on September 15, Cassini is slated to destroy itself by flying directly into Saturn's crushing atmosphere.

Cassini's first finale dive will take place on April 26 at 2 a.m. PDT (5 a.m. EDT). The spacecraft will make the next radio contact with Earth on April 27 during which it will send another batch of images and other data.

Before the finale, Cassini managed to take some interesting images including an image of Earth from space.

A new narrated, 360-degree animated video gives viewers a sense of what it might be like to fly alongside Cassini as it makes one of its Grand Finale dives.

Cassini is the most sophisticated space probe ever built. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter.


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