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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Cassini's Last Photos

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, September 23, 2017/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, art and design, environment, adventure

      

                                 Impact Zone Where Cassini Entered Saturn's Atmosphere (credit: JPL)

The Cassini spacecraft is gone. The planetary explorer took one last loop into the gap in Saturn's rings before plunging into the planet's thick clouds and disintegrated. The bus-sized robot, built by NASA and several European space agencies,  was managed by Jet Propulsion Laboratory at CalTech and it streamed data back from Saturn until the very moment it began to break apart. By the time the information was received by JPL, Cassini was already part of Saturn.

Cassini's last photographs included the location where the satellite would enter the atmosphere, a close-up of the moon Enceladus rising, a final 'ringscape', and the approachinng cloud layers swirling below just before melting into them.

 

           Cassin's Final 'Ringscape' Photo (credit: JPL)                                   Enceladus Rising (credit: JPL)

An animation of the final loop was produced by JPL from all the last images gathered.

Cassini acquired so much information probing Saturn and its moons, years will be required to intrepret everything it measured and photographed during that remarkable 'voyage of discovery'.

WHB

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