Cassini’s flagship mission to the ringed planet Saturn ended over a year ago, but data from the craft’s Grand Finale tour of the Saturnian system continues to allow scientists to unlock the mysteries surrounding the sixth planet in our solar system.
Among the discoveries after the end of Cassini’s mission include a firm understanding of the planet’s rotational period, the the age of the planet’s iconic rings, observations of dust storms on its moon Titan, and numerous other scientific revelations.
Grand Finale science returns:
Cassini’s remarkable tenure at Saturn came to an end on 15 September 2017 after numerous mission extensions and scientific returns that scientists could only have dreamed of before the craft’s launch nearly 20 years prior on 15 October 1997.
In an effort to execute planetary protection to ensure Cassini did not accidentally contaminate one of the potentially life harboring moons of Saturn, the craft was plunged into the ringed planet’s atmosphere for a destructive entry after a final set of 22 close orbits of the planet that constituted the mission’s Grand Finale.
Knowing this was the end, Cassini scientists did something with their craft that no spacecraft had done before; they flew Cassini ...