Cassini-Huygens' missions from 1977 to 2017 - a click on image to enlarge - doc. Nasa / JPL / Caltech
The space probe Cassini, part of the Earth in 1997, will soon be out of fuel, after twenty years of services around Saturn, its rings and its moons.
Last April, the probe changes its last trajectory. Its new orbit will send it between the inner rings and less than 2,000 km from Saturn. While analyzing what it perceives, it will run to its programmed loss on September 15, entering and consuming itself in the Saturnian atmosphere.
This suicide is a necessary passage because NASA does not want that, if its probe remains in orbit, it does not end up crashing on one of the moons and deposits microbes and terrestrial bacteria in a place potentially sheltering an extraterrestrial life.
- Sept. 15: Cassini's Final Entry into Saturn's Atmosphere begins at 10:44 a.m. UTC (3:44 a.m. PDT). Spacecraft loss of signal comes one minute later at 10:45 a.m. UTC (3:45 a.m. PDT).
- Sept. 15: Final signal received on Earth at about 5 a.m. PDT
Synthesis of the Cassini mission - 2004/2017
During these two decades, the orbiter Cassini allowed the exploration of Saturn, its rings and its moons. Among the most astonishing discoveries, the mission allowed to follow a mega storm on the giant gaz planet, caught by astonishing clichés of the planet and its rings, revealed the existence of ice plumes on the surface of Enceladus, and the number of moons; thanks to its passenger, the European probe Huygens, it has made discover the wonderful world of Titan, where rivers of methane enters a sea of the same composition.
Source: Nasa / Jet Propulsion Laboratory / Caltech
Crashing into Saturn / via Nat Geo