The probe “Cassini”, who spent seven years journey to Saturn and 13 years to study it, entered the atmosphere of the gas giant and burned it. Shortly before the spacecraft transmitted to Earth the last message that has been received by the experts.
photo: screenshot from the animated video on youtube.com
Cassini was launched in 1997, and in mid-2004 reached Saturn and began its study, which lasted up to the present day. The final stage of the mission, called “the finale of the Opera”, was launched in April.
Summing up the mission, the team of scientists working with Cassini, left some messages on the official project page on Twitter, but most of these statements contain a rather nostalgic than factual information. In particular, some experts find his own way symbolic that the machine is “drowning” and burned in the atmosphere of Saturn, became part of the planet, the study of which was the purpose of his existence.
Earth received @CassiniSaturn”s final signal at 7:55am ET. Cassini is now part of the planet it studied. Thanks for the science #GrandFinale pic.twitter.com/YfSTeeqbz1
— NASA (@NASA) September 15, 2017
However, before the nostalgia fully, experts still study the data, which the companion passed in the last minutes of their work — this is expected to allow a better understanding of the composition of its atmosphere and discover some hitherto unknown information about the magnetic field.
During his work Cassini is allowed to know more with the weather, the seasons and the auroras on Saturn, and also received a number of circumstantial evidence that the satellite of a gas giant’s moon Enceladus could be habitable, and even inhabited by microorganisms. Also, already in the final stage of his mission, the spacecraft has helped to clarify the thickness of the famous rings of the planet.
Another important event that took place in the framework of the mission was to land on Titan, another moon of Saturn, the descent probe “Huygens”, launched together with Cassini and referred to in full name of the mission. This probe, in particular, has allowed to confirm the availability of on Titan “reservoirs” of methane.
The decision to “drown” the companion in the atmosphere of Saturn was dictated primarily by two motives — first, the experts didn’t want Cassini accidentally crashed into any of the potentially habitable moons of the planet, and secondly, by itself the opportunity to look at a gas giant “near” opens before experts a very attractive prospect.
Watch the video on:
“After 20 years of wandering the legendary Cassini burned up in the atmosphere of Saturn”