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Old 2017-09-14, 12:08   Link #1
Inept Forum User
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Join Date: Sep 2010
The End of Cassini

It is nearly time. After 20 years in space and 13 years at its destination, Cassini will soon meet its end as it plunges into Saturn.

During its time at Saturn, Cassini has made many scientific discoveries concerning the planet and its many moons, including Titan, which Cassini dropped Huygens onto in 2005, the only moon known to have a dense atmosphere and stable bodies of surface liquid (hydrocarbon in nature), and Enceladus, which was found to have water and organic compounds in a subsurface ocean. With fuel running out and a radioactive power source (and possibly earthly microbes) onboard, Cassini is being destroyed by plunging it into Saturn in order to eliminate the possibility of it contaminating any of Saturn's moons which might have the potential for life.

In less than 19 hours from the time of writing, Cassini will hurtle into Saturn's atmosphere, using its remaining fuel to maintain its orientation and transmit data back towards Earth until it can do so no more. Given the distance between Earth and Saturn, those transmissions will arrive about 1 hour and 24 minutes after the events occur, and conditions will not allow visual observation of the craft's destruction.

This is the end of an era for many, both for those directly involved in the Cassini-Huygens project and those who have followed or been inspired by it. The launch of Cassini in 1997 was a major factor in sparking my childhood obsession with space and an interest which has continued to this day, so I'm sad to see it go. I hope and have little doubt that Cassini will be an inspiration for many years to come, both from its accomplishments over the past two decades and discoveries yet to be made from the masses of information it has sent back.

Farewell Cassini, and thank you.

NASA-JPL, ESA, BBC

EDIT (11:46 GMT(+1), 15/09/2017): Cassini is gone. All that is left is for its final transmissions to reach Earth.

EDIT: Loss of signal (7:55:46 EDT, 12:55:46 GMT(+1)).
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Farewell, Cassini (October 15th 1997 - September 15th 2017)

Last edited by Inept Forum User; 2017-09-16 at 05:17. Reason: Minor tweaks.
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