5 things we’ve learned about Saturn since Cassini died | Science News


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5 things we’ve learned about Saturn since Cassini died

The craft’s last data reveal new details about the gas planet’s clouds and rings

3:30pm, March 20, 2018
Cassini image of Saturn

COMING INTO FOCUS  Saturn shines in this Cassini image taken in October 2013. Even though the spacecraft is gone, scientists are still learning from its 13 years’ worth of data.

THE WOODLANDS, Texas — It’s been six months since NASA’s Cassini spacecraft plunged to its doom in the atmosphere of Saturn, but scientists didn’t spend much time mourning. They got busy, analyzing the spacecraft’s final data.

The Cassini mission ended September 15, 2017, after more than 13 years orbiting Saturn (SN Online: 9/15/17). The spacecraft’s final 22 orbits, dubbed the Grand Finale, sent Cassini into the potentially dangerous region between the gas giant and its rings, and its final orbit sent it directly into Saturn’s atmosphere.

That perspective helped solve mysteries about the planet and its moons that could not be tackled any other way, scientists said March 19 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.

“In so

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