Goodbye, Cassini: Earth's Eye On Saturn Nears Its End

Audrey Hill
April 23, 2017

A new image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows planet Earth as a point of light between the icy rings of Saturn.

Launched in 1997, Cassini reached Saturn in 2004 and has been exploring it from orbit ever s.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft soared past Saturn's biggest moon for the last time on Saturday, tapping its gravity to slingshot into a series of exploratory dives inside the planet's rings, followed by a final fatal plunge into the gas giant, news agency Reuters reported Saturday. During the last dive on September 15, Cassini is slated to destroy itself by flying directly into Saturn's crushing atmosphere.

NARIT Deputy Director Saran Posayachinda disclosed that on 14 April 2017, NASA announced the discovery of two additional oceans in the solar system according to the data from the Hubble Space Telescope and Cassini spacecraft. While it's impossible to tell from such a distance, the space agency says that the southern Atlantic Ocean was facing Saturn when the photo was snapped.

A new study offers an explanation for the mysterious "magic islands" on Saturn's moon Titan.

When we look up and see planets from Earth, they appear as pinpoints of light.

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This flyby is also the gateway to NASA Cassini spacecraft's "Grand Finale".

"I feel a little sad in many ways that Cassini's discoveries will end". She added that, while NASA does not now have the instruments to test for life at such a great distance, the discovery of hydrogen venting from Enceladus is a capstone finding that confirms the moon possesses "all the essential features necessary for life". "If Cassini runs out of fuel it would be uncontrolled and the possibility that it could crash-land on the moons of Titan and/or Enceladus is unacceptably high", said Maize.

Saturn's rings were first discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. The Encke gap - also within Saturn's A ring - is visible in the upper right of the photo.

The spacecraft will eventually destroy itself by diving into the planet's atmosphere in September 15.

One reason scientists want to make sure Cassini is incinerated at the end of its journey is to ensure that any of its earthborn microbes do not contaminate the biotic or prebiotic worlds out there.

"Imagine the pictures we're going to get back of Saturn's rings", Spilker said. Scientists hope to gain additional insights to help them determine whether the feature is waves, bubbles, floating debris, or something else entirely.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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