On Wednesday, the Cassini spacecraft decided to dive into the area between the ring and Saturn, which had never before been investigated. On Thursday, the first signal from the device should arrive.
Cassini lost contact with the Earth, as he became the first ship destined to make a maneuver - a passage into the gap between the planet and the rings. The fact is that the antenna is directed forward to protect scientific instruments from potentially dangerous particles in the rings. The antenna can withstand minor damage, such as bumps, leaving small holes, and still remains in excellent condition.
“We just have to wait,” said Jim Green, director of NASA’s planetary science unit. “We’ll be ignorant for a few hours, until Cassini gets to the place where he turns his antenna towards us.” If everything goes well, then the unit will have time to complete 21 stages before its final in September. The gap between the atmosphere of Saturn and the rings is relatively narrow - 1900 km.
“The team has crossed their fingers and is listening to the response signal,” added engineer Joan Stupic.
This is an undated snapshot showing Mimas (one of the moons of the planet), eclipsed by planetary rings.
Cassini went on a mission in 1997 and arrived in 2004. The fuel was almost out, so NASA ventured on this dangerous but exciting journey through the rings.
The image on March 12, 2006 shows the Epimeteus satellite and the Titan with rings A and F hidden in smog.
The frame of April 12, 2017, on which the Earth and the Moon (in the center on the left) are displayed as tiny bright points behind the rings of Saturn with a distance of 1.4 billion km.