Cassini is now burning its way through Saturn’s atmosphere
As most of you know, this Friday, September the 15th early morning Cassini spacecraft plunged itself to Saturn and ended its life.
The Saturn exploration that has been touring the planet for 13 years has come to an end – mixed feelings. It has given, sent, help us learn so much about that planet.
Scientists and engineers gathered at NASA’s JPL in California to wave goodbye to the spacecraft that has taught them so much about Saturn and its moons. Here is a short video highlights from NASA JPL:
One of the Cassini’s project scientist at the NASA JPL commented that,
“It’s going to be tough to say goodbye, but I’m very proud of all Cassini has accomplished and to have been part of the mission from the very beginning. It’ll be a mixture of sadness and pride and joy at having worked on the mission and saying goodbye to my Cassini family.”
If you ask me, each and every mission initiated and put up there in space are like parents sending kids off to college and watching them achieve.
The beautiful Cassini kept sending signals to Earth until the last minute. The signals were picked up by NASA’s tracking station in Australia and relayed to JPL from there. It took 83 minutes for the signals to travel back to Earth (186,000 miles per second) so Cassini’s death took more than an hour and 20 minutes.
It grand finale gave scientists a great chance to make “closest” observations of Saturn and its rings. Watch Cassini’s last look at Saturn:
Here are Cassini’s achievements in numbers provided by NASA:
- Commands executed: 2.5million
- Saturn orbits completed: 293 at end of mission
- Targeted moon flybys: 162
- Targeted Titan flybys: 127
- Targeted Enceladus flybys: 23
- Images taken: 453,048
- Oceans discovered: 2 (Titan, Enceladus)
- Titan seas and lakes discovered: 3 seas, hundreds of small lakes
- Named moons discovered: 6
- Science papers published: 3,948
- 635 GB Science Data collected.
- 27 Nations participated
- 360 Engine burns
- 4.9 billion miles traveled since launch
- 294 orbits completed
NASA TV did a great job live streaming it for the whole world to say goodbye to Cassini. All contact was lost from Cassini at about 2.55pm BST (7.55am EDT) today.
NASA tweeted: “Earth received Cassini Saturn’s final signal at 7:55am ET. Cassini is now part of the planet it studied. Thanks for the science.”
It was an incredible mission and it is still going to provide scientists with so many new information even though it’s no longer there.
“Cassini may be gone, but its scientific bounty will keep us occupied for many years,” Spilker said. “We’ve only scratched the surface of what we can learn from the mountain of data it has sent back over its lifetime.”
NASA has this site about Cassini. Visit and read about its mission and the wonderful journey.
Cassini’s journal: https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/grandfinale