Spaceflight Insider

News Archive / Tagged: Saturn

  • Reconstructing Cassini’s final moments

    Jim SharkeyOctober 21st, 2017

    During the Cassini spacecraft's final plunge into Saturn's upper atmosphere on Sept.15, 2017, the spacecraft live-streamed data from eight of its science instruments, providing readings from a variety of engineering systems. While it will take time to analyze all of the data from its plunge, engineers with the Cassini team already have a pretty clear understanding of how the spacecraft behaved as it went in.

  • Their words: Cassini’s Hunter Waite and the quest to look beyond

    Matthew KuhnsSeptember 24th, 2017

    PASADENA, Calif. — Peering through the atmospheres of other worlds to determine what they are made of is difficult enough, but to do so reliably for 13 years is an astonishing accomplishment. Hunter Waite, the INMS team leader at SwRI, spoke with SpaceFlight Insider about the mission in the lead-up to Cassini's "final bow".

  • Their words: Cassini’s Linda Spilker on mission’s legacy

    Matthew KuhnsSeptember 23rd, 2017

    PASADENA, Calif. — When Cassini took its final bow into the upper atmosphere of the gas giant Saturn, a good many people who had labored on the nearly 20-year-long mission were forced to say goodbye to a machine that had become all but a member of the family. One thing that was not lost that day was the wealth of knowledge that Cassini had sent back to those it left behind on Earth.

  • Cassini: The legend and legacy of one of NASA’s most prolific missions

    Ocean McIntyreSeptember 17th, 2017

    PASADENA, Calif. — Just one month shy of twenty years in space, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft dramatically ended its mission in the early morning hours at approximately 4:55 a.m. PDT (7:55 a.m. EDT / 11:55 GMT) Earth-Received Time (ERT) on Friday, September 15, 2017.

  • Gallery: Controllers receive last signals before Cassini spacecraft demise

    Derek RichardsonSeptember 15th, 2017

    PASADENA, Calif. — With its fuel nearly depleted, Cassini made a final plunge toward Saturn to get as much science as possible before burning up in the planet's atmosphere. Flight controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) lost telemetry with the spacecraft, as expected, at about 7:55 a.m. EDT (11:55 GMT) Sept. 15, 2017.

  • LIVE: Cassini spacecraft ends its mission at Saturn

    Derek RichardsonSeptember 15th, 2017

    NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is making a final plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere to end its mission some 13 years after reaching the ringed world. Flight controllers at NASA are receiving the probe’s final data before it burns up in the planet’s atmosphere.

  • Cassini has uncovered a wealth of data on Saturn’s rings

    Laurel KornfeldAugust 19th, 2017

    NASA's Cassini spacecraft, now conducting its final orbits between Saturn and its rings, is plunging further than ever into the giant planet's atmosphere. Over the last 13 years studying the Saturn system, the spacecraft has discovered a wealth of information about the planet's rings.

  • Final five ‘Grand Finale’ orbits will explore Saturn’s upper atmosphere

    Laurel KornfeldAugust 11th, 2017

    Set to begin the final five of its "Grand Finale" orbits next week, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will conduct unprecedented close-up studies of Saturn's upper atmosphere.

  • As dusk sets on NASA’s Cassini mission, Saturn still providing surprises

    Ocean McIntyreJuly 28th, 2017

    After twenty years in space and thirteen years directly observing Saturn and its system of hypnotic rings and moons, the Cassini spacecraft is continuing to tease out tantalizing data from the mysterious ringed beauty about every six days.

  • Cassini images Enceladus’ south polar jets

    Laurel KornfeldJuly 20th, 2017

    NASA's Cassini orbiter has captured a distant view of the mysterious jets emanating from the south pole of Saturn's moon Enceladus, a world that likely harbors a subsurface ocean. The jets are believed to be liquid water being vented from the ocean underneath the moon's icy crust.

  • Could a dedicated mission to Enceladus detect microbial life there?

    Tomasz NowakowskiJune 27th, 2017

    Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus is best known for its numerous geysers ejecting plumes of water and ice. These eruptive fountains are perplexing researchers searching for signs of microbial life beyond Earth. A dedicated spacecraft designated to study the plume-like features sprouting from Enceladus could definitely tell us whether they contain alien microorganisms.

  • Cassini prepares for sixth ring-grazing orbit

    Paul KnightlyMay 25th, 2017

    NASA's Cassini spacecraft is currently completing its fifth ring-grazing orbit of Saturn as it conducts its Grand Finale nearing the end of its mission. It will reach its orbital apoapsis on May 25 at 08:50 UTC (4:50 a.m. EDT), at which point its sixth ring-grazing orbit will begin. The sixth ring crossing of the Grand Finale will occur on May 28 at 14:22 UTC (10:22 a.m. EDT).

  • Cassini image shows Saturn heading toward solstice

    Laurel KornfeldMay 18th, 2017

    A visible-light image of Saturn and one side of its rings taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on February 3, 2017, shows the planet's shrinking shadow on the rings as it approaches its May 2017 solstice.

  • The Big Empty: Cassini finds virtually no particles between Saturn and its rings

    Ocean McIntyreMay 14th, 2017

    Based on data collected on the first of the Cassini spacecraft's planned 22 "Grand Finale" orbits, the area between the cloud tops of Saturn and the inner-most ring seems to be mostly dust-free. Instead of the heavy distribution of dust particles Cassini had detected when it made its ring grazing orbits in late 2016, the spacecraft instead revealed a “big empty."

  • Gap between Saturn and innermost ring surprisingly free of dust

    Laurel KornfeldMay 3rd, 2017

    Analysis of data returned by NASA's Cassini spacecraft from its first Grand Finale dive between Saturn and its rings has surprised scientists by revealing the region to be nearly dust free.