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Tag: Cassini

Cassini: Probe incinerates on entry to Saturn

Cassini: Probe incinerates on entry to Saturn

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceThe American-led Cassini space mission to Saturn has just come to a spectacular end. Controllers had commanded the probe to destroy itself by plunging into the planet's atmosphere. It survived for just over a minute before being broken apart. Cassini had run out of fuel and Nasa had determined that the probe should not be allowed simply to wander uncontrolled among Saturn and its moons. The loss of signal from the spacecraft occurred pretty close to the prediction. Here at mission control, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, the drop-off was timed at 04:55 PDT (11:55 GMT; 12:55 BST). How the last hours unfoldedNasa's Earl Maize addressed fellow controllers: "Congratulations to you all. This has been an incredible missi...
The legacy of doomed NASA spacecraft Cassini

The legacy of doomed NASA spacecraft Cassini

Technology
Greg Heffer, News ReporterNearly two decades after blasting off into space, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is set to end its long journey in a fiery suicide plunge.At around 12.55pm UK time on Friday, communication with the £2.5bn project will end when the spacecraft deliberately drives itself into Saturn.After seven years spent travelling to the ringed planet, Cassini has been investigating Saturn and its moons since 2004.Video:ESA animation shows Saturn probe's demiseWhat did it do?Between its launch from Cape Canaveral on 15 October 1997 until the completion of its journey to Saturn, Cassini performed two fly-bys of Venus before returning for a fly-by of Earth to pick up speed.It then travelled through the asteroid belt before teaming up with fellow spacecraft Galileo as it inspected Jupiter
Cassini conducts last picture show

Cassini conducts last picture show

Science
Media playback is unsupported on your deviceEngineers now have a precise expectation of when they will lose contact with the Cassini probe. The spacecraft is being ditched in the atmosphere of Saturn on Friday, bringing to an end 13 amazing years of discovery at the ringed planet. The team hopes to receive a signal for as long as possible while the satellite plummets into the giant world. But the radio will likely go dead at about 6 seconds after 04:55 local time here at mission control in California. That is 11:55:06 GMT (12:55:06 BST). This is the time that antennas on Earth lose contact. Because of the finite speed of light and the 1.4 billion km distance to Saturn, the event in space will actually have occurred 83 minutes earlier. "The spacecraft's final signal will be like an echo. I...
Cassini: Saturn probe turns towards its death plunge

Cassini: Saturn probe turns towards its death plunge

Science
The international Cassini spacecraft at Saturn has executed the course correction that will send it to destruction at the end of the week.The probe flew within 120,000km of the giant moon Titan on Monday - an encounter that bent its trajectory just enough to put it on a collision path with the ringed planet. Nothing can now stop the death plunge in Saturn's atmosphere on Friday. Cassini will be torn to pieces as it heads down towards the clouds.Its components will melt and be dispersed through the planet's gases.Ever since it arrived at Saturn 13 years ago, the probe has used the gravity of Titan - the second biggest moon in the Solar System - to slingshot itself into different positions from which to study the planet and its stunning rings. It has been a smart strategy because Cassini wou...
Cassini hints at young age for Saturn's rings

Cassini hints at young age for Saturn's rings

Science
The spectacular rings of Saturn may be relatively young, perhaps just 100 million years or so old.This is the early interpretation of data gathered by the Cassini spacecraft on its final orbits of the giant world. If confirmed, it means we are looking at Saturn at a very special time in the age of the Solar System. Cassini is scheduled to make only two more close-in passes before driving itself to destruction in Saturn's atmosphere on 15 September. The probe is being disposed of in this way because it will soon run out of fuel. That would render it uncontrollable, and mission managers at the US space agency Nasa do not want it crashing into - and contaminating - moons that could conceivably host microbial lifeforms. The approaching end means scientists and engineers are now taking risks wi...