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originally posted by: wildespace
I worry, though, that the space between the rings and Saturn might not be completely free of icy particles, and that Cassini might experience a collision.
originally posted by: 3danimator2014
a reply to: Jungian
The cassini mission is in my opinion one of NASA's most awe inspiring triumphs. On par with Voyager IMO.
the wealth of new discoveries and knowledge it has given us is staggering...as well as some of the most beautiful pictures of our solar system ever taken.
I have raved in threads on ATS many times before and I will continue to do so.
I'm hoping to make a huge Cassini thread before its final plummet, showcasing the amazing things its discovered.
Wonderful craft. Wonderful mission.
In the early hours of April 13, 2017, a veteran NASA probe captured this breathtaking and unique visage of the Saturnian system as it coasted through space in the shadow of the gas giant.
Using its Wide-Angle Camera (part of the Imaging Science Subsystem), Cassini snapped 96 individual digital photos: these images consisted of Red, Green, and Blue-filtered frames, covering a total of 32 ‘footprints’. These 32 color frames were painstakingly combined to produce the final mosaic.
The veteran spacecraft took nearly four hours to collect these data.
originally posted by: wildespace
I'm thinking we should make this thread the official Cassini Grand Finale thread, so I'm gonna carry on posting the updates and images here.
After making a daring "dive" in-between Saturn and its rings, Cassini took a series of images that make up this stunning night-side mosaic of Saturn, with rings back-lit by the Sun:
False-colour images, processing by me.
Saturn's icy, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus may have tipped over in the distant past, according to recent research from NASA's Cassini mission. Researchers with the mission found evidence that the moon's spin axis -- the line through the north and south poles -- has reoriented, possibly due to a collision with a smaller body, such as an asteroid.
Examining the moon's features, the team showed that Enceladus appears to have tipped away from its original axis by about 55 degrees -- more than halfway toward rolling completely onto its side.
"The images from the first pass were great, but we were conservative with the camera settings. We plan to make updates to our observations for a similar opportunity on June 28 that we think will result in even better views," said Andrew Ingersoll, a member of the Cassini imaging team based at Caltech in Pasadena, California.
In the study, published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, scientists identified negatively charged molecules called 'carbon chain anions' in the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. These linear molecules are understood to be building blocks towards more complex molecules, and may have acted as the basis for the earliest forms of life on Earth.
The team say the discovery of the negatively charged carbon chain anions is surprising because they are highly reactive and should not last long in Titan's atmosphere before combining with other materials.
Interestingly, the data show that the carbon chains become depleted closer to the moon, while precursors to larger aerosol molecules undergo rapid growth. This suggests a close relationship between the two, with the carbon chains 'seeding' the larger molecules that are thought to fall down to, and deposit on, the surface.
Sept. 14 -- Cassini's imaging cameras take their last look around the Saturn system, sending back pictures of moons Titan and Enceladus, the hexagon-shaped jet stream around the planet's north pole, and features in the rings.
• Sept. 14 (5:45 p.m. EDT / 2:45 p.m. PDT) -- Cassini turns its antenna to point at Earth, begins a communications link that will continue until end of mission, and sends back its final images and other data collected along the way.
• Sept. 15 (4:37 a.m. EDT / 1:37 a.m. PDT) -- The "final plunge" begins. The spacecraft starts a 5-minute roll to position INMS for optimal sampling of the atmosphere, transmitting data in near real time from now to end of mission.
• Sept. 15 (7:53 a.m. EDT / 4:53 a.m. PDT) -- Cassini enters Saturn's atmosphere. Its thrusters fire at 10 percent of their capacity to maintain directional stability, enabling the spacecraft's high-gain antenna to remain pointed at Earth and allowing continued transmission of data.
• Sept. 15 (7:54 a.m. EDT / 4:54 a.m. PDT) -- Cassini's thrusters are at 100 percent of capacity. Atmospheric forces overwhelm the thrusters' capacity to maintain control of the spacecraft's orientation, and the high-gain antenna loses its lock on Earth. At this moment, expected to occur about 940 miles (1,510 kilometers) above Saturn's cloud tops, communication from the spacecraft will cease, and Cassini's mission of exploration will have concluded. The spacecraft will break up like a meteor moments later.