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September 11-17, 2017 / Vol 36, No 37 / Hawai`i Island, USA

8 Sep 2017, 20:43 UTC
September 11-17, 2017 / Vol 36, No 37 / Hawai`i Island, USA
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Cassini and New Horizons Dive into Next Mission Phases

The sensational Cassini spacecraft is set for its grand finale plunge into Saturn starting 04:37 EDT September 15 with final communication and craft disintegration expected 1,510 km above Saturn cloud tops at 07:54. Cassini data will continue to provide revolutionary insight into Saturn, its complex rings, magnetic environment, giant storms, Solar System evolution and moons Enceladus with its icy jets and Titan liquid ethane and methane lakes and seas. Launched together October 15, 1997 the Huygens probe provides first close up images of Titan and is the only landing accomplished in outer Solar System. Joint effort of NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency, development of Cassini began in 1980s; thousands of people have contributed to Cassini, many dedicating most of their careers to the significant mission including (TL-R) Program Secretary Karen Chan, Project Scientist Linda Spilker, Program Manager Earl Maize, and Propulsion Engineer Todd Barber. As Cassini is winding down, New Horizons is waking up Sep 11 for tests and instrument checks prior to Kuiper Belt Object 2017 MU69 encounter at 12,500 km or closer Jan 1, 2019. Recent observations indicate the KBO, discovered June 2014 about 44 AU from ...

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