The Orbits Closest to Saturn Offer Groundbreaking Science

The Orbits Closest to Saturn Offer Groundbreaking Science

The Cassini mission is NASA’s way of studying Saturn. The probe made its latest and final approach to the celestial giant as it dove into Saturn’s atmosphere about a year ago. The first week of October had six teams of scientists to publish their work which was based on what was found during Cassini’s last steps in its mission.

The discoveries were published into the Geophysical Research Letters peer-reviewed journal. Cassini found its end in an event dubbed the Grand Finale. As it was running pretty low on fuel, the team that was controlling the probe had Cassini steered incredibly close to Saturn. It performed 22 orbits before it was ultimately plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere in September 2017, the vaporizing being deliberate.

Since they knew that Cassini didn’t have much to live, the controlling team decided to alter its flight program, choosing to fly it where it wasn’t intended to at the beginning of the mission. This way, we gained access to Saturn’s magnetized environment as Cassini made its way through rocky ring particles made of ice and it even managed to sniff around the planet’s atmosphere between the gap residing between the planet’s rings and cloud tops.

This flight change pushed the space probe to its limits but in doing so, scientists obtained new findings which showed just how agile and powerful the instruments on board of Cassini were. Among the findings, we chose to show you these:

  • The rings pour complex organic compounds via water nanograins upon the upper atmosphere
  • Cassini managed to show for the first time just how the rings interact with the planet
  • Scientists got to see for the first time the material existing between the rings and Saturn
  • Saturn is even more interconnected to its rings than scientists previously knew.


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