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US Spacecraft Cassini Readies for Fiery Plunge Into Saturn After 13-Year Mission

12 Sep 2017, 11:47 UTC
US Spacecraft Cassini Readies for Fiery Plunge Into Saturn After 13-Year Mission
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Cassini, the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn, will make the last of 22 farewell dives between the planet’s rings and surface on September 15.
The spacecraft Cassini is pictured above Saturn’s northern hemisphere prior to making one of its Grand Finale dives in this NASA handout illustration obtained by Reuters August 29, 2017. Credit: Reuters
Washington: The US space agency’s Cassini spacecraft will end its 13-year mission to Saturn in mid-September by transmitting data until the final moment before it plunges into the ringed planet’s atmosphere, officials said on Tuesday.
Cassini, the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn, will make the last of 22 farewell dives between the planet’s rings and surface on September 15. The spacecraft will then burn up as it heads straight into the gas giant’s crushing atmosphere.
Cassini’s final dive will end a mission that provided groundbreaking discoveries that included seasonal changes on Saturn, the moon Titan’s resemblance to a primordial Earth, and a global ocean on the moon Enceladus with ice plumes spouting from its surface.
“The mission has been insanely, wildly, beautifully successful, and it’s coming to an end in about two weeks,” Curt Niebur, Cassini program scientist, said on a telephone conference call with ...

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