Cassini begins its 'death dive' into Saturn's rings Cassini begins its 'grand finale': Nasa spacecraft plunges into Saturn's rings after an epic 20 year journey which will end in a death dive At 10am BST (5am ET), Cassini begun the first of 22 dives through an unexplored gap in Saturn's ringsIt will plunge through the 1,500 mile wide gap to collect the first ever samples of Saturn's atmosphereCommunications with the spacecraft have gone dark during the dive and will resume on Thursday, Nasa saidCassini's mission will officially terminate on September 15, in a planned 'death dive' into SaturnBy Today Cassini has begun the first of 22 'Grand Finale Orbits' through an unexplored gap before taking its final plunge into the planet.
This graphic shows these orbits alongside the Ring Grazing orbits the craft has undergone over the past 13 years. The orbit of Titan, one of Saturn's moons, is shown in dark green and the direction of Earth is shown in white THE 'GRAND FINALE'Cassini has circled Saturn for 13 years since reaching its orbit in 2004, spearheading remarkable discoveries about the ringed planet and its icy moons but now, it's running low on fuel. On April 22 the spacecraft began to transition into its grand finale orbits, taking one last close flyby of Saturn's massive moon Titan. Titan's gravity bent Cassini's flight path, causing the orbit to shrink until it was on course to pass between Saturn and the inner edges of its rings. Today Cassini begun the first of 22 dives through an unexplored gap before it ultimately plunges through the skies of Saturn to end its mission as 'part of the planet itself.' Cassini's mission will officially terminate on September 15, after a planned plummet through Saturn's atmosphere. And, all the while, it will transmit data from several instruments until the signal is finally lost. If Cassini survives the trip, it could make radio contact with Earth as early as 8.05 BST (3:05am ET) on April 27. 'Images and other data are expected to begin flowing in shortly after communication is established,' NASA said. Cassini pandora silver is a 20 year old joint mission of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The 22 foot tall (6.7 meter) spacecraft launched in 1997 and began orbiting Saturn in 2004. But the craft is now running low on fuel, and will make a death plunge into Saturn's surface on September 15. Yesterday the craft made its final flyby of Saturn's massive moon Titan, collecting data on the hydrocarbon lakes and haze enshrouded surface of the alien world. It made its closest approach to Titan at a speed of about 13,000 miles per hour (21,000 kph), marking the beginning of its 'Grand Finale.' This encounter caused Titan's gravity to bend Cassini's orbit, pulling it slightly in so that it can begin its final set of 22 dives between Saturn and its rings, before plunging into the planet on Sept 15. The spacecraft pandora discount made its 127th and final close approach to Titan on April 21, passing at an altitude of about 608 miles (979 kilometers) above the moon's surface. Cassini transmitted its images and other data to Earth following the pandora chain encounter. Scientists, with Cassini's radar investigation, will be looking this week at their final set of new radar images of the hydrocarbon seas and lakes that spread across Titan's north polar region. 'Cassini's up close exploration of Titan is now behind us, but the rich volume of data the spacecraft has collected will fuel scientific study for decades to come,' said Linda Spilker, the mission's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. It marked pandora charms sale australia the beginning of the 'thrilling final chapter' of Cassini's life, twenty years after it left Earth. In this artist's illustration the spacecraft is shown breaking apart after entering Saturn's atmosphere. The planned end of Cassini will occur on September 15, 2017 Cassini is beginning a series of orbits, known as death dives, between Saturn and its rings. Tomorrow (8.30BST, 15.30ET) the spacecraft is expected to send images back of its first orbit of the planet and its system of rings. No other spacecraft has taken this journey before and it is believed to be perilous.
Cassini will have to dodge floating debris and rocks in order to get close to Saturn's rings. But if it succeeds, scientists will finally be able to take magnetic and gravitational measurements that will help them figure out the mass of Saturn and its rings. Nasa already knows the total mass of Saturn and its rings combined, but is yet to decipher the planet's mass on its own.
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