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E.g., 09/19/2017
E.g., 09/19/2017
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  • Illustration of Cassini's death
  • Saturn's G Ring
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  • News

    R.I.P. Cassini

    PASADENA, Calif. — Cassini went down fighting.

    After 20 years in space and 13 years orbiting Saturn, the veteran spacecraft spent its last 90 seconds or so firing its thrusters as hard as it could to keep sending Saturnian secrets back to Earth for as long as possible.

    The spacecraft entered Saturn’s atmosphere at about 3:31 a.m. PDT on September 15 and immediately began running...

    09/15/2017 - 09:08 Astronomy, Planetary Science, Astrobiology
  • Science Ticker

    These are Cassini’s parting shots of the Saturn system

    Here are the final images from Cassini’s last look around the Saturn system.

    In its last hours before plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere, the Cassini spacecraft turned its cameras to the mission team’s favorite objects: the hydrocarbon-shrouded moon Titan, the geyser moon Enceladus and, of course, the majestic rings.

    After sending these raw images back to Earth, Cassini reconfigured...

    09/15/2017 - 00:09 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    The Cassini probe dies tomorrow. Here’s how to follow its end

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    It’s not every day that a spacecraft gets vaporized by the very planet it sought to explore.

    After 13 years studying Saturn and its moons, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will plunge into the ringed gas giant’s atmosphere. The mission will come to a close at about 7:55 a.m. EDT (4:55 a.m. PDT) Friday, when Saturn’s atmosphere pushes Cassini’s antenna away from Earth,...

    09/14/2017 - 14:30 Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    So long, Titan. Cassini snaps parting pics of Saturn’s largest moon

    The Cassini spacecraft has snapped its penultimate pics of Saturn’s moon Titan.

    This image, shot September 11 as Cassini swung past the moon at a distance of about 119,049 kilometers, shows Titan’s lake region near its north pole. “The haze has cleared remarkably as the summer solstice has approached,” Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker said in a news conference September 13.

    ...

    09/13/2017 - 16:05 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    Final flyby puts Cassini on a collision course with Saturn

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    After one last swing past Titan, the Cassini spacecraft is now plunging to its doom. At 3:04 p.m. EDT (12:04 p.m. PDT) on September 11, the spacecraft used a gravitational nudge from Saturn’s largest moon to set itself on a collision course with the giant planet’s atmosphere on September 15.

    Cassini’s last close flyby of Titan on April 21 curved the spacecraft’s orbit to...

    09/11/2017 - 16:00 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • Science Ticker

    Pluto’s pits, ridges and famous plain get official names

    Sputnik is feeling the love. The huge heart-shaped plain on Pluto, made famous when the New Horizons spacecraft flew past in 2015, can keep its name. It and 13 other surface features on the dwarf planet have been assigned official nomenclature, the International Astronomical Union announced September 7.

    Objects in the Pluto system are traditionally named for figures in underworld...

    09/07/2017 - 18:05 Astronomy, Planetary Science
  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers were curious about rogue planets, exomoons and more

    Going rogue

    Astronomers estimate that wandering Jupiter-mass planets without a parent star are about a tenth as common as once believed, Ashley Yeager reported in “Giant solo planets are in limited supply” (SN: 8/19/17, p. 10).

    Online reader Brian Bixby wondered how often such a rogue planet would come close to our solar system and proposed that one near the Kuiper Belt or Oort cloud...

    09/06/2017 - 13:30 Planetary Science, Exoplanets, Anthropology
  • Science Ticker

    Rings of Uranus reveal secrets of the planet’s moon Cressida

    If you could put Uranus’ moon Cressida in a gigantic tub of water, it would float.

    Cressida is one of at least 27 moons that circle Uranus. Robert Chancia of the University of Idaho in Moscow and colleagues calculated Cressida’s density and mass using variations in an inner ring of the planet as Uranus passed in front of a distant star. The team found that the density of the moon is 0.86...

    09/01/2017 - 14:00 Planetary Science
  • Television

    ‘Death Dive to Saturn’ celebrates the Cassini probe’s accomplishments

    For over 13 years, the Cassini spacecraft has orbited Saturn, beaming back dazzling images from the ringed planet and its diverse moons. On September 15, the mission will go out in style by dive-bombing the planet. In “Death Dive to Saturn,” the TV series NOVA looks back at Cassini’s successes and takes us behind the scenes for the spacecraft’s final months.

    Featuring interviews with...

    08/27/2017 - 08:00 Planetary Science
  • Feature

    As Cassini’s tour of Saturn draws to a close, a look back at postcards from the probe

    Take a bow, Cassini. It’s been a marathon performance: 20 years in space, more than 200 orbits around Saturn, and hundreds of thousands of images of the giant planet, its splashy rings and its many moons. On September 15, the veteran spacecraft will use its last burst of fuel to plunge into the sixth planet from the sun. Scientists and space enthusiasts around the world will watch it go with...

    08/23/2017 - 15:45 Astronomy, Planetary Science