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Thread: Cassini's look at Saturn below the rings.

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    Cassini's look at Saturn below the rings.

    Cassini has entered the last phase of its exploration of Saturn. As it will be taking the closest-ever images of Saturn as it plunges through the rings 22 times in the next few months, I thought it might be appropriate to start a new thread. Enjoy the 1st of the close up pictures of Saturn.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2...-shares-first/

    Nasa's Cassini spacecraft sent the closest-ever images of Saturn on Thursday after surviving its first plunge inside the planet's rings, the US*space agency said.

    A stream of pictures showing Saturn's swirling clouds, massive hurricane and odd six-sided vortex weather system were transmitted back to Earth by Cassini, which has been exploring Saturn for 13 years.

    Now in its final laps around Saturn, Cassini dove through the narrow gap between the planet and its innermost ring on Wednesday, where no spacecraft has ever gone before. It was the first of 22 planned close encounters to bring the robotic probe into unexplored territory between Saturn's cloud tops and its rings.
    and from AmericaSpace

    http://www.americaspace.com/

    After waiting with bated breath last night, everyone following Cassini’s first-ever dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings let out a collective sigh of relief – the spacecraft made it! This was the first time a probe*had ever flown this close to Saturn’s atmosphere and inner rings, and while mission scientists were confident the probe would sail through unharmed, it wasn’t a 100% guarantee, either. But it did, and this is just the first of 22 such dives through this region as part of the “Grand Finale” phase of the mission.
    Last edited by selvaarchi; 2017-Apr-28 at 01:49 PM.

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    I was looking at this magnus effect plane
    http://up-ship.com/blog/?p=34562

    I wonder if wheels can also be used as wings for a true flying rover. Dense atmosphere--little gravity...

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    It's a shame that it can't be placed into a permanent orbit around one of the moons, but I'm sure there are good reasons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spacedude View Post
    It's a shame that it can't be placed into a permanent orbit around one of the moons, but I'm sure there are good reasons.
    Yep, including possibly contaminating one of the moons with Earth bugs. They want it to be sent down where that won't happen.

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    Cassini's scientists had a pleasant surprise when Cassini plunged through the gap in the rings. Cassini found less dust particles than expected.

    http://www.latimes.com/science/scien...502-story.html

    "NASA scientists are reporting that the Cassini spacecraft has encountered less dust than expected in this formerly unexplored region.

    This is great news for the missionís engineers, who worried that even a small piece of dust the size of a grain of sand could damage one of the spacecraftís instruments as it made its first dive through the region last week."

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    Last edited by selvaarchi; 2017-May-03 at 12:03 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    Yep, including possibly contaminating one of the moons with Earth bugs. They want it to be sent down where that won't happen.
    I have read that some bugs can survive the environment of space, but is that also true after 17 years or thereabouts? And would bugs of that level of DieHardNess be garanteed dead after entering the atmosphere of Saturn? I can imagine that burning up in an atmosphere is less survivable than basically anything else, "kill it with fire" tends to be a quite universally applicable solution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisy Rhysling View Post
    Yep, including possibly contaminating one of the moons with Earth bugs. They want it to be sent down where that won't happen.
    How much Delta-V would be necessary to go from a Saturn orbit to a Saturn's moon orbit? My intuition (which could be wrong) is that it's more than the spacecraft has available. Maybe it could be done in a complicated gravity assist flyby, but I bet you'd be threading a needle to try that kind of multi-body move.

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    Cassini has completed its 3rd dive and taken more closeup pictures of Saturn and also some long distance shots of Titan.

    http://www.americaspace.com/2017/05/...ouds-on-titan/

    "NASAís Cassini probe has now survived its third dive into Saturnís rings, specifically the gap between the innermost rings and the planet itself. This is just the latest in a series of 22 such planned dives for the Grand Finale phase, before the mission ends on Sept. 15, 2017. This time, as well as obtaining more close-up views of the rings and Saturnís atmosphere again, Cassini took a look at Saturnís largest moon Titan from a distance, and saw some of the longest and brightest clouds in the hazy atmosphere that it has seen in the entire mission. Even though Cassini wonít be making any more close flybys of Titan, these new views are fantastic."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicolas View Post
    I have read that some bugs can survive the environment of space, but is that also true after 17 years or thereabouts? And would bugs of that level of DieHardNess be garanteed dead after entering the atmosphere of Saturn? I can imagine that burning up in an atmosphere is less survivable than basically anything else, "kill it with fire" tends to be a quite universally applicable solution.
    Somebody sneezed on a lunar probe, and when the astronauts brought it back the bugs were still viable. (Exact details pend upgrade of the Way-Back Machine.)

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    Cassini should have completed its most dangerous dive to date. We will know the results in a few hours.

    http://www.space.com/37010-cassini-m...-dive-yet.html

    "The Cassini spacecraft completes its sixth dive between Saturn and its rings today (May 28), and this is the most dangerous dive yet. Instead of passing safely between the planet and its rings, the spacecraft is plunging straight through the inner edge of Saturn's D ring.

    The spacecraft, which is a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency, will turn its broad, high-gain antenna dish to rest in front of it as a shield during the crossing, for the first time since its very first ring dive, which occurred in April, NASA officials said. (For that dive, researchers didn't know whether the area between the rings and Saturn would be clear of debris.)"

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    Cassini successfully completed its latest dive and has sent us more pictures and information.

    https://spaceflightnow.com/2017/05/3...ns-inner-ring/

    "Barreling through space near the inner edge of Saturnís wispy D ring, NASAís Cassini spacecraft shielded itself from bits of ice and dust Sunday as the probe made its most dangerous plunge close to the planet, collecting spectacular edge-on views of Saturnís rings with an on-board camera.

    The raw images returned during Sundayís encounter show new close-up angles of the structure of Saturnís rings, and Cassini also turned its radar instrument to scan the rings in a first-of-its-kind experiment."

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    This image of the rings, looking away from Saturn, is fascinating. I don't recall ever seeing this perspective and detail before now. I hope the image is processed to add color.
    https://assets.cdn.spaceflightnow.co.../N00282108.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by schlaugh View Post
    this image of the rings, looking away from saturn, is fascinating. I don't recall ever seeing this perspective and detail before now. I hope the image is processed to add color.
    https://assets.cdn.spaceflightnow.co.../n00282108.jpg
    Wow!
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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    There is a coffe table bok from this alone.

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    Cassini completes it 8th ring crossing.

    http://www.americaspace.com/2017/06/...saturns-moons/

    "As Cassiniís ďGrand FinaleĒ journey continues, the spacecraft has completed its eighth dive past the innermost rings of Saturn (known as a ring crossing), and there are now just under 100 days left until it plunges into the giant planetís atmosphere, never to come back. Although time may be running out, Cassini continues to devour every drop of science data that it can, which builds upon other data that has transformed our view of the Saturnian system Ė a complex array of worlds like a miniature Solar System. This includes, of course, more fantastic images of Saturn and its rings and moons. The detail seen in the rings is nothing short of staggering."

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    Feast your eyes on the latest pictures from Cassini.

    http://www.americaspace.com/2017/07/...acular-detail/

    "NASAís Cassini spacecraft has now successfully completed its 12th ring crossing at Saturn, and is now well past the halfway point of the Grand Finale phase of its mission. Each ring crossing, with now only 10 left, brings Cassini closer to its inevitable end in September, when the spacecraft will plunge into Saturnís turbulent atmosphere to meet its fiery fate."

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    Pan itself begins to look like Saturn. I wonder how far down that can go...
    https://www.space.com/37430-electrif...n-planets.html

    Maybe that can help explain pan...

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    Emily Lakdawalla's guide to the remaining orbits of Cassini.

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily...w-preview.html

    It's been hard to bring myself to write the following sentence: the Cassini mission ends soon. We're halfway through the "Grand Finale" orbits. Only eleven and a half orbits remain until Cassini meets its fate on September 15. JPL is planning a big press event for the final days of the mission. In the meantime, here's a look at the great mission's final science orbits, mostly gleaned from the as-always-excellent Cassini website.

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    Cassini keeps teasing out Saturn's secrets in its final dives through the rings, to the delight of the scientists.

    https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6900

    As NASA's Cassini spacecraft makes its unprecedented series of weekly dives between Saturn and its rings, scientists are finding -- so far -- that the planet's magnetic field has no discernible tilt. This surprising observation, which means the true length of Saturn's day is still unknown, is just one of several early insights from the final phase of Cassini's mission, known as the Grand Finale.

    Other recent science highlights include promising hints about the structure and composition of the icy rings, along with high-resolution images of the rings and Saturn's atmosphere.

    Cassini is now in the 15th of 22 weekly orbits that pass through the narrow gap between Saturn and its rings. The spacecraft began its finale on April 26 and will continue its dives until Sept. 15, when it will make a mission-ending plunge into Saturn's atmosphere.

    "Cassini is performing beautifully in the final leg of its long journey," said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. "Its observations continue to surprise and delight as we squeeze out every last bit of science that we can get."

    Cassini scientists are thrilled as well -- and surprised in some cases -- with the observations being made by the spacecraft in the finale. "The data we are seeing from Cassini's Grand Finale are every bit as exciting as we hoped, although we are still deep in the process of working out what they are telling us about Saturn and its rings," said Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker at JPL.

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    I'd love to see a big object plunge into Saturn's atmosphere--coming in in front and ahead (and a bit to the side) of Cassini's own descent--so it could follow the contrail for as long as possible.

    That would be the ultimate way to end the mission.
    Shoemaker Levy type event--but up close!

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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    Feast your eyes on the latest pictures from Cassini.

    http://www.americaspace.com/2017/07/...acular-detail/

    "NASAís Cassini spacecraft has now successfully completed its 12th ring crossing at Saturn, and is now well past the halfway point of the Grand Finale phase of its mission. Each ring crossing, with now only 10 left, brings Cassini closer to its inevitable end in September, when the spacecraft will plunge into Saturnís turbulent atmosphere to meet its fiery fate."

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    The video embedded in the article was cool. Americans have a flare for the dramatic when it comes to the sciency stuff. The comment about Cassini becoming part of Saturn itself made me think of the Lion King.

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    See a video of an aurora seen by Cassini at Saturn's South pole.

    https://www.space.com/37667-saturn-g...ini-photo.html

    Similar to auroras on Earth, Saturn's auroras are formed by charged particles raining down on the planet, colliding with the atmosphere and creating light, according to a statement from NASA. The charged particles come from the solar wind, a steady stream of material emanating from the sun.

    A video from NASA shows the "ghostly curtains of light" billowing through Saturn's atmosphere. The black-and-white video was captured on July 20, in visible light. The technicolor photograph that serves as the backdrop in the video was taken in 2008 in near-infrared light, and is false-colored to highlight the ring of auroras around the planet's pole.

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    We are now into the last 5 orbits of Saturn. Enjoy some of the latest photos from Cassini.

    http://www.americaspace.com/2017/08/...ion-at-saturn/

    "NASAís Cassini spacecraft just completed its 17th ring crossing at Saturn, part of the Grand Finale phase of the mission, leaving only 5 more to go before the mission ends on Sept. 15. As before, the ring crossing was a success, with Cassini sending back precious more data about the Saturn system even though time is now running short. The ring crossings, bringing the spacecraft closer to Saturn than ever before, provide a unique way for scientists to learn even more about Saturn and its moons in a manner never before possible."

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    As Cassini's work comes to a end in a week, Space Review takes a look at it's contribution to our knowledge.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3320/1

    The end is nigh—for Cassini, at least.

    Ten days from today, the venerable spacecraft, launched nearly 20 years ago, will plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere. With the spacecraft running out of fuel for its thrusters, mission planners developed this “Grand Finale” phase of the mission to ensure that the spacecraft doesn’t one day collide with the moons Enceladus or Titan, contaminating those potentially habitable worlds with whatever terrestrial lifeforms have survived the last two decades as well as the spacecraft’s plutonium power source.

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    ...launched nearly 20 years ago...
    That's almost hard to believe.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    That's almost hard to believe.
    Hard to believe there was once a time when Cassini wasn't at Saturn.

    Likewise, hard to believe there was a time when we didn't have Voyager pictures.

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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    As Cassini's work comes to a end in a week, Space Review takes a look at it's contribution to our knowledge.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3320/1
    And a colorized version of the closeup view showing the intricate ring structure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    Hard to believe there was once a time when Cassini wasn't at Saturn.

    Likewise, hard to believe there was a time when we didn't have Voyager pictures.
    It has been a durable mission for sure.

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    What to expect in the final hours of Cassini by Emily Lakdawalla.

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily...-timeline.html

    The Cassini mission is the longest-lived orbiter flying beyond Earth. We are now just days away from its end. I will be at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for Cassini's last three days, keeping vigil over it as I did for Rosetta last year. If you're a member of the media who will also be at JPL this week, I'd like to hear from you.

    Here is a look at what to expect from the great mission during its final hours. The information in the table below is sourced from the NASA Cassini End of Mission press kit; a media advisory emailed from JPL; and Jason Perry's final Cassini Looking Ahead article.

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    Wow, we are about a day away from Cassini taking its last image.
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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