15 to fly directly into the surface of Saturn, which will allow the probe to collect precious data on the atmosphere of the gas giant.
An unmanned NASA spacecraft, Cassini, is poised to plunge into the gap between Saturn and its rings, a pioneering journey that could offer an unprecedented view of the sixth planet from the Sun.
Project Scientist Linda Spilker said Cassini will be able to make close up measurements of Saturn and its rings to finally help us understand the mass and internal structure of Saturn. NASA already knows the mass of Saturn plus its rings.
The spacecraft zipped through this region at speeds of about 124,000 kph relative to the planet, so small particles hitting a sensitive area could potentially have disabled the spacecraft.
America’s space boffins briefly lost contact with their craft during its descent on Wednesday. The next dive is planned for May 2.
As we reported just a few days ago, the Cassini orbiter is settling into its final death throes as it begins to descend into Saturn’s atmosphere.
The fact that Cassini survived its first ring crossing is a big deal. For its final act, the spacecraft will plunge itself into Saturn’s atmosphere, ending its 20-year-long mission. There will be no contact with Cassini before that.
NASA scientists were exultant.
Early on Wednesday, Cassini began to make the first of its 22 plunges, flying at over 70,000mph – created to gather pictures and scientific information on the previously unexplored part of space.
During its dive through the gap, Cassini traveled within 1,900 miles of Saturn’s highest clouds.
LA 2024 CEO Gene Sykes said: “LA 2024 congratulates Los Angeles’ own NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the success of the Cassini space orbiter and its Grand Finale dives through Saturn’s rings”. Sad because we are officially at the beginning of the end.
Cassini has taught us about the weird and wonderful hexagon-like structures at Saturns poles, the prebiotic chemistry in the atmosphere of a dynamic Titan with rain, rivers and lakes, and with the Huygens probe, provided the first awesome close-up images of Titan’s surface. The angling of the antenna away from Earth is what made communication with the spacecraft go dark for the day. The distance between the spacecraft and Earth was roughly 1.44 billion kilometers. “Saturn continues to surprise us”.
Is there life on Jupiter and Saturn’s moons? The data for this image was captured by the spacecraft’s infrared camera. Using the dish in this way forced Cassini to lose contact with Earth.
Downing Street’s protest came after Twitter chose to block intelligence agencies’ access to some user data via a third-party service that other businesses also use to access the data.