Tags: cassini | spacecraft | finale | mission

Cassini Spacecraft Grand Finale Begins as Mission Comes to an End

Image: Cassini Spacecraft Grand Finale Begins as Mission Comes to an End
(Screengrab via YouTube/NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

By    |   Wednesday, 26 Apr 2017 01:37 PM

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft flew between Saturn and its rings in "grand finale" fashion on Saturday.

Project manager Earl Maize credits Saturn’s mega moon Titan for giving the spacecraft the nudge or "last kiss goodbye" that it needed to enter into the gap between Saturn and its rings while orbiting the planet, where scientists will now be able to gain some unexpected insight, according to CBS News.

This comes after Cassini has been traveling in space for nearly two decades and orbiting around Saturn for 13 years, the Atlanta Journal Constitution noted.

"What a spectacular end to a spectacular mission," said Jim Green, the director of NASA’s planetary science division, according to CBS News. "I feel a little sad in many ways that Cassini’s discoveries will end. But I’m also quite optimistic that we’re going to discover some new and really exciting science as we probe the region we’ve never probed before."

"Ultra-close" images of Saturn’s rings and clouds will be available Thursday morning, according to NASA.

"Imagine the pictures we’re going to get back of Saturn’s rings," said project scientist Linda Spilker, adding that "we’re actually going to dip our toe" into Saturn’s atmosphere, which will provide scientists with new information as the the $3.27 billion mission comes to an end.

This comes after Maize made remarks about the mission during a news conference earlier this month, saying, "the best is still yet to come – perhaps."

"But we are certainly going to provide more excitement," he added.

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NASA's Cassini spacecraft flew between Saturn and its rings in "grand finale" fashion on Saturday.
cassini, spacecraft, finale, mission
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2017-37-26
Wednesday, 26 Apr 2017 01:37 PM
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