Monday, September 11, 2017

The End of a Very Successful Mission

On Sept. 15, Cassini will dive straight into Saturn, collecting data from the planet's atmosphere and firing it back to Earth in the 1 to 2 minutes before breaking apart. The dive will bring an  end to the probe's 13-year extended mission in the Saturn system, where it has unearthed many incredible and unexpected science discoveries. 

On Sept. 13 and 14, Cassini's cameras will take the probe's last images of the system. 

On Sept. 15, starting at 4:37 a.m. the "final plunge" will begin as the spacecraft gets into position to sample the atmosphere. Normally,there is at least an hours-long delay between when the probe collects data and transmits it back to Earth, but because Cassini will only be able to transmit for 1 to 2 minutes during the final plunge, the probe will send data within 2 to 3 seconds of collecting it, Cassini scientists have said. The spacecraft will transmit data back to Earth from eight of its 11 instruments, but it will not have enough bandwidth to send images (which require larger data files), which is why the probe will take its final snapshots of the system on Sept. 14.

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