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Cassini: Saturn probe to set up death plunge

The spacecraft is set to fly close to the giant moon Titan - an encounter that will bend its trajectory just enough to send it into the atmosphere of the ringed planet on Friday.

Ever since it arrived at Saturn 13 years ago, the probe has used the gravity of Titan - the second biggest moon in the Solar System - to slingshot itself into different positions from which to study the planet and its stunning rings.

It has been a smart strategy because Cassini would otherwise have had to fire up its propulsion system and drain its fuel reserves every time it wanted to make a big change in direction.

As the probe passes Titan, it will take one last set of images of this extraordinary world where orange skies produce liquid methane rains that run into huge seas, and where the vast dunes on the moon's surface are made from a plastic-like sand.

In the final three hours or so before impact on Friday all data acquired by the spacecraft will be relayed straight to Earth, bypassing the onboard solid state memory.


  • Saturn's rings: Most-detailed-ever color imagesEarthSky
  • End of NASA's Cassini mission: how to steer a spacecraft into SaturnThe Denver Post
  • Slingshot around Titan is the beginning of the end for CassiniNew Scientist
  • Something astonishing is about to happen on SaturnMorning Ticker
  • As Cassini nears its end, what's next on the agenda? Check out what NASA has
  • Cassini's final quest: solve the mysteries of Saturn's ringsThe Australian
  • Last Look at SaturnValley News
  • After revealing Saturn, Cassini set for final dive on September 15Economic Times
  • The Spaceship That Took Some Of The Greatest Images Of The Solar System Is ...BuzzFeed News

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Cassini: Saturn probe to set up death plunge


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