Cassini has been in Saturn’s orbit since 2004 and will soon complete his great mission. On April 26, he will perform the first of a series of dives through a gap of 2400 km between the rings and the planet.
“Never has a single spacecraft repeated this. But we boldly do it 22 times, ”said Thomas Zuryuhen, administrator of the Directorate of Scientific Missions in Washington. - “The implementation of such maneuvers will help to understand the formation and evolution of giant planets and planetary systems.”
Cassini managed to make a lot of incredible discoveries, including: the global ocean with signs of hydrothermal activity on the icy satellite Enceladus and liquid methane seas Titan.
It has been 20 years since the launch and 13 years of rotation around the planet, so the device has spent almost the entire fuel supply. To protect the moons and the planet from being infected by microbes of the earth, it was decided to crash the ship against the surface. But even the deadly flight becomes a new unique mission, as in the next 5 months we will receive amazing shots of the rings from the closest possible distance. The team hopes to better understand the internal structure of the planet and the origin of the rings, as well as get the world's first accurate picture of the atmosphere and take a closer look at the clouds. Now scientists are checking the list of commands that the probe will perform during the dive. On April 11, they will upload the sequence of these operations into the system.
April 22 Cassini will move from its orbit to the last close flight of the giant satellite of Titan. It will crush the trajectory of the apparatus, after which the orbit of Cassini will begin to shrink, and it will pass between the planet and the inner edge of the rings.
The models showed that there should not be large fragments inside that could damage the ship. In mid-September, the trajectory of the apparatus will bend so that he can dive into the planet. September 15 will start the descent and send data from the tools to Earth.
The Grand Final Cassini is an unforgettable event, as it marks the evolution of space research and a new step in the development of far-reaching spaces.