Cassini: 20-Year Mission to Saturn Nears Grand Finale

Cassini: 20-Year Mission to Saturn Nears Grand Finale

With the end of Cassini, there is no other mission now operating or under development to visit Saturn or its moons.

The same might be true for Cassini's place in pop culture.

The Cassini spacecraft will go out in a blaze of glory on Friday morning after two decades of exploration. The scientists are very much satisfied and amazed with the detailed works of Cassini and depicted this mission as a revolutionary one.

"Just as I was inspired as a kid by watching Apollo 11 land on the Moon, today's school kids have the opportunity to witness the spectacular finale of Cassini zooming through Saturn's rings".

The spacecraft has completed many moon flybys while observing seasonal changes on Saturn and Titan. This probe explored Saturn's moon Titan, which is larger than Mercury and is the only moon in the solar system with a dense atmosphere.

"The mission has been insanely, wildly, beautifully successful", Curt Niebur, Cassini program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, gushed during a recent media teleconference.

The craft was launched 20 years ago, and is now running out of fuel. But outside those two communities, what will serve as the tangible reminders of the mission? Once they are firing at full capacity, the thrusters can do no more to keep Cassini stably pointed, and the spacecraft will begin to tumble.

Due to the travel time for radio signals from Saturn, which changes as both Earth and the ringed planet travel around the Sun, events now take place there 83 minutes before they are observed on Earth.

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News Corp Australia

Speaking about Cassini, its lead propulsion engineer Todd Barber said.

In 2004, Cassini became a "Cool Kids Combo" meal toy offered by Hardee's and Carl's Jr. fast food restaurants. The Cassini mission could barely compete in dinner time conversation up against missions to mars, especially not when it was only in the planning stage. "It is as detailed and handsome as the ones that you can buy in a gift shop", Barber said. Cassini's sacrifice will be remembered for ever.

The station is one of NASA's three tracking stations around the world that provide vital two-way radio contact with spacecraft like Cassini. During the spring equinox, Cassini could capture the way the sunlight hit Saturn's rings edge-on, allowing researchers to measure the summits of mountains they saw rising from the rings.

The Royal Mail, the United Kingdom's postal service, did though commemorate Cassini as part of a 2012 six stamp "Space Science" set featuring imagery from the European Space Agency's (ESA) missions.

The last signal and data from Cassini are expected at about 8 a.m. ET. Better that, they figured, than Cassini accidentally colliding with a moon that might harbor life and contaminating it. "I find great comfort in the fact that Cassini will continue teaching us up to the very last second". "What would it look like if I could hold a ring particle in my hand?" Data from the spacecraft indicate Saturn's rings - which consist of icy bits ranging in size from dust to mountains - may be on the less massive side. "It would be interesting to do a survey on Cassini's impact on the arts", said Lakdawalla. The mission's end is a loss for an entire scientific community. Scientists have published about 4,000 papers on the Saturn realm, with many more to come.

"Scientists love mysteries, and the Grand Finale is providing mysteries for everyone", she added. However, signal reception is generally used to mark mission times to avoid confusion. Cassini has collected 450,000 images using a visible light camera. We have new books coming out about Saturn, the rings, the magnetosphere, so many new things Cassini has discovered.

First there was the sheer distance involved. There are so many puzzles at Saturn.