NASA’s joint endeavour – Cassini Spacecraft’s “Grand Finale”
Google has come up with yet another doodle to pay honour to the journey of an unpiloted Spacecraft Cassini – Huygens.
The Spacecraft being one of the most ambitious missions in planetary space exploration was sent to the planet Saturn.
This joint endeavour of NASA, ESA and ASI was launched with two elements Cassini -The orbiter and the Huygens Probe on October 15, 1997 and entered orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004.
Huygens separated from orbiter in 2004 and landed on Saturn’s moon, Titan, on Jan 14, 2005 – The most distant spacecraft landing to date.
On Wednesday, the Cassini descended to the region between Saturn and its innermost ring.
The spacecraft will dive between Saturn’s rings a remarkable 22 times between April 26 and Sept 15 before its ‘Grand Finale’- crashing into Saturn, so that it doesn’t contaminate one of the planets’ moons with debris and microbes from Earth.
Loaded with powerful instruments and cameras the spacecraft beamed us home valuable data that has given us a better understanding of Saturian system.
Named after the 17th century astronomer Giovanni Cassini, the spacecraft made impressive discoveries. On Saturn’s moon, the probe has revealed Earth like geographic features and great lakes of liquid natural gas on the surface.
It found evidence of an underground ocean and presence of hydrogen on the moon Enceladus. It learnt how new moons could form out of Saturn’s rings.
Cassini has captured high resolution images of Saturn lit up by the Sun. Being in the inner rings the spacecraft will be able to take the measurement that will help in calculating the mass of the Saturn and its rings without factoring in them.
Drawing towards the end of its life, Cassini is still producing scientific discoveries at a fast clip. Its dramatic finale is also a last chance for us to squeeze out some more insights.
Before going offline this magnificent spacecraft will fulfill all its expectations.
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