On the last Thursday morning, NASA has made the great announcement that its spacecraft, Cassini, has successfully traversed the area between Saturn and the planet’s rings. The spacecraft came back into contact with Earth after successfully completing the first ever trip between a planet and its rings.
Currently, Cassini is sending back data, information and images back to earth that it has collected during the passage. It manages to achieve this thanks to NASA’s Deep Space Network Goldstone Complex, located in the Mojave Desert.
NASA has released a statement where it showcases their achievement. Cassini managed to further increase our knowledge of the universe and has furthered the threshold of exploration.
Cassini’s trip was not a simple one, nor was it a safe one. It came close to 3,000 km of the cloud tops surrounding Saturn and around 300 km close to the planet’s rings. The speed it went swooping past was at around 124,000km/h, and this is one the reason it was quite a risky mission for it. The rings of Saturn are surrounded by various ice particles, and if one of those hits any vulnerable part of the ship, it might just be enough to have it disabled. Luckily, reports show that Cassini has not only managed to achieve its crossing as it was scheduled, but it also managed to pass in perfect safety.
The ship was protected by a large antenna that was used as a sort of shield. It could be orientated in the direction of the particles and would stop them from hitting Cassini. However, this also meant that the ship could not be contacted during its crossing.
This will not be the only crossing that Cassini will do, on the contrary, it has 21 more to do. Its next crossing will be attempted during the 2nd of May.