Groundbreaking science from ultra-close orbits of Saturn


Many more Grand Finale science results are to come, but here are some of today’s highlights: ‘ Complex organic compounds embedded in water nanograins rain down from Saturn’s rings into its ‘

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New research from the Cassini spacecraft’s final orbits represents a huge leap forward in our understanding of the Saturn system ‘ especially the mysterious, never-before-explored region between the planet and its rings.

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NASA’s Cassini mission made its final approach to Saturn and dove into the planet’s atmosphere on a little more than a year ago ‘ on September 15, 2017.

New research emerging from the spacecraft’s final orbits represents a huge leap forward in our understanding of the Saturn system ‘ especially the mysterious, never-before-explored region between the planet and its rings. Some preconceived ideas are turning out to be wrong while new questions are being raised.

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  • Publisher: EarthSky
  • Date: 2018-10-06T05:58:21-05:00
  • Author: EarthSky Voices
  • Citation: Web link

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Groundbreaking science emerges from ultra-close orbits of Saturn

New research emerging from the final orbits of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft represents a huge leap forward in our understanding of the Saturn system’especially the mysterious, never-before-explored region between the planet and its rings. Some preconceived ideas are turning out to be wrong while new questions are being raised. Six teams of researchers are publishing their work Oct. 5 in the journal Science, based on findings from Cassini’s Grand Finale. That’s when, as the spacecraft was running out of fuel, the mission team steered Cassini spectacularly close to Saturn in 22 orbits before deliberately vaporizing it in a final plunge into the atmosphere in September 2017.

Groundbreaking Science Emerges from Ultra

This illustration imagines the view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft during one of its final dives between Saturn and its innermost rings, as part of the mission’s Grand Finale. (NASA Image)

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The spacecraft flew where it was never designed to fly. For the first time, it probed Saturn’s magnetized environment, flew through icy, rocky ring particles and sniffed the atmosphere in the 1,200-mile-wide (2,000-kilometer-wide) gap between the rings and the cloud tops.

Not only did the flight path push the spacecraft to its limits, the new findings illustrate how powerful and agile the instruments were.

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