Tuesday, July 08, 2014

"Grand Finalie" Cassini's Last and Most Daring Mission

After a decade of romping through Saturn's collection of moons, rings and the planet itself, the Cassini mission is drawing to a close.  Cassini has all but exhausted its supply of fuel that was used by the craft's maneuvering thrusters.  

Now with a clear end in sight, controllers can be a little less conservative.  From the Discovery article:
  • Starting in 2016, Cassini will be commanded to carry out a “daring set of orbits that is, in some ways, like a whole new mission,”
  • Cassini will be given commands that will take it high above Saturn’s poles and then fly outside the planet’s narrow F-ring.  Then, its trajectory will evolve to make a dive between the innermost ring and the planet 22 times. Flying through the ring plane will increase the potential for impacts with ring dust, ice grains and even large rocks, so until now such an orbital profile has been avoided at all costs.
If, after this the craft is still able to take commands, Cassini will be given instructions to dive into Saturn's dense atmosphere.  

Read the complete Discovery article HERE



Dave Tackett said...

Cassini, including the Huygens probe, is certainly a major accomplishment for NASA. From our first view of Titan's surface, through the radar mapping of Titan's lakes and discovery of cryovulcanism on Enceladus, to this upcoming grand finale, it has never disappointed.

Beam Me Up said...

well put dave very well put