Cassini ‘GoodBye Kiss’ for Titan: NASA Cassini spacecraft also made in depth plunges not just Saturn and its rings and manoeuvres to provide insights into the planet moons – Titan and Enceladus too.
In fact, Saturn icy moon, one of the Cassini biggest revelations includes unveiling Enceladus and the fact that it has many of the components needed for life.
Cassini ‘GoodBye Kiss’ for Titan
So, to Saturn, Cassini wouldn’t just say goodbye, it will also take one last look at its two moons before it makes a depth dive into the planet atmosphere and explodes like a meteor, thereby making the end of its 13-year mission.
The spacecraft made its closest approach to Titan on September 11 at 12:04 pm PDT (3:04 pm EDT), at an altitude of 73,974 miles (119,049 kilometres) above the moon surface. Of the planet giant moon, this has its final, distant flyby.
The Cassini has scheduled to make contact with earth on September 12 as per NASA at about 6:19 pm PDT (9:19 pm EDT). During the encounter, images and other science data have taken has expected to begin streaming to Earth soon after.
Following this downlink, navigators will analyse the spacecraft trajectory to confirm that Cassini has precisely on course to plunge into Saturn at the planned time, location and altitude.
Cassini is completing its 13-year tour of the Saturn system:
By mission engineers, the distant encounter has referred to as the ‘goodbye kiss’, since it provides a gravitational nudge that sends the spacecraft moving its dramatic ending in Saturn upper atmosphere.
Cassini project Manager Earl maize at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California says that “Cassini has been in a long term relationship with Titan, with a new rendezvous nearly every month for more than a decade.”
He also says that this final encounter has something of a bittersweet goodbye, but as it has done throughout the mission, Titan gravity is once again sending Cassini where we need it to go.
With an international plunge, Cassini is ending its 13-year tour of the Saturn system on the planet to ensure Saturn moons – in particular, Enceladus, with its subsurface ocean and signs of hydrothermal activity remain pristine for future exploration.
In the mission Grand Finale, the fateful spacecraft dive is the final beat, 22 weekly dives through the gap within Saturn and its rings. Close to the planet before as no spacecraft has ever ventured, NASA reported.