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End Of Mission Timeline, As Cassini Makes Its Final Approach To Saturn
The end is nigh for NASA's Cassini: Saturn Probe Enters Final 24 Hours (CCSS Level: Grade 8, Words: 326)
Sep 15, 2017 Science & Technology
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The end is nigh for NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which is now less than 24 hours away from its scheduled death dive into the planet Saturn.

Cassini is on final approach to Saturn, following confirmation by mission navigators that it is on course to dive into the planet's atmosphere on Sept 15. The mission's final calculations predict a signal will be received on Earth indicating loss of contact with the Cassini spacecraft on Sept 15 is 4:55 am. PDT (7:55 a.m EDT)

At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, mission scientists are now preparing to receive Cassini's final data transmissions. Heat and friction created by the fall will cause Cassini to break apart, and its components to vaporise, only 2 or 3 minutes after it enters Saturn's atmosphere. During its dive into the atmosphere, the spacecraft's speed will be approximately 113,000 kilometers per hour.

"What going to happen on Friday is absolutely inevitable," Earl Maize, project manager for Cassini, said during a news conference at JPL today(Sep 13). The Cassini mission is operated out of JPL using the Deep Space Network, a series of telescopes around the globe that communicate with spacecraft beyond Earth and the moon.

During its 13-year mission Cassini has provided the first in-depth, up-close study of Saturn and its system of rings and moons. It became the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn, beginning a mission that supplied a huge amount of new insights over more than a decade. The Saturnian system proved to be rich ground for exploration and discoveries, and Cassini's science findings changed the course of future planetary exploration.

Live mission commentary and video from JPL Mission Control will air on NASA Television from 7 to 8:30 a.m. EDT (4 a.m to 5.30 a.m. PDT) on Sep 15 A post-mission news briefing from JPL is currently scheduled for 9:30 a.m EDT (6:30 a.m. PDT), also on NASA TV.


NASA TV is available online at: https://www.nasa.gov/live

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