Cassini Completes Final Titan Flyby

The image has been clicked by NASA's Cassini spacecraft from the distance of 870 million miles from the icy rings of Saturn. After the flyby, Cassini will begin a series of dives between the rings and the planet.

"NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this view of the planet Earth as a point of light between the icy rings of Saturn on April 12, 2017", a NASA official said.

Those 22 dives will continue on a weekly basis through the summer, and on September 15, the spacecraft - which is almost out of fuel - will eventually succumb to Saturn's gravity and enter the planet's atmosphere, where it will likely be incinerated as it hurtles towards the surface. Cassini-Huygens' input shows Saturn's moon Titan has Earth-like processes like clouds, rain, sand dunes, volcanos, and even rivers and lakes of methane and ethane.

The Cassini Mission is a collaborative effort between NASA, the European Space Agency, and Italy's Space Agency.

Aside from planet Earth, the spacecraft also photographed the moon.

"I think it is too early to eulogize Cassini on the occasion of its death, as incineration is five months away", Jonathan Lunine, director of the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science and a longtime member of the Cassini mission team, told USA Today.

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"With this flyby we're committed to the Grand Finale", said Earl Maize, Cassini project manager at JPL.

The spacecraft's first finale dive will take place on April 26th at 2:00am PDT (5:00am CDT).

However, Cassini did not only make a Titan flyby.

Cassini will be out of contact during the dive, but will make radio contact with Earth the next day, when scientists expect the images and data to start coming in.

Cassini is the most sophisticated space probe ever built. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.


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