Aberystwyth Uni experts follow Cassini Saturn mission

NASA scientist to speak at Cal Poly, a day after spacecraft's fiery demise

In recent weeks, Cassini has beamed back information on Saturn's enigmatic rings that could answer fundamental questions about their make-up.

The probe was running low on fuel, and the 13-year tour of the Saturn system mission must end.

Astronomer Royal Professor Lord Rees, who did not have a role in the mission, said: "We've now reached the grand finale of what's surely one of the greatest scientific and engineering achievements in space exploration".

"I can not think of any other mission in. planetary science that had the success of worldwide collaboration that Cassini had", he explained. It was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, US. The storm at the planet's southern pole was quite different than that up north. Cassini discovered that the northern vortex, which is in the shape of a hexagon, thought to be formed due to a difference in speed of turbulent winds, changed colours according to seasons. Enceladus has become a promising lead in the search for places where life could exist outside Earth.

Missions have been suggested to explore Enceladus, including its interior and the subsurface liquid body, Larry Soderblom, an interdisciplinary scientist on the Cassini mission, told CBC News. "But it's given me the most wonderful ride and it delivered my instrument to the surface of Titan where it's still sitting".

So farewell, then, Cassini. While the Voyager missions suggested it was just a ball of ice, Cassini found incredible geysers spewing salty water hundreds of miles into space. And NASA didn't want to risk contaminating the moons or any future studies of them with Earth particles.

On this trajectory, Cassini would sail too close to Saturn to survive.

Some scientists believe that rings could have formed after asteroids smashed into some of Saturn's moons, creating a trail of debris. Four of them - Iapetus, Rhea, Dione, and Tethys - are bigger than several known dwarf planets. Water can not freeze on the darker half of the moon, which absorbs more heat, but forms a bright frosty covering on the lighter hemisphere.

Cassini's fate arose directly from its success in shedding a light on the possibility of life on other worlds. It will potentially offer insights into the giant planet's formation and evolution.

Cassini discovered icy jets that shoot from the moon Enceladus, allowing the collection of samples from an underground ocean that shows signs of hydrothermic activity.

Cassini provided stunning images of picturesque Saturn, including this true-colour image of its rings.

Cassini is expected to begin its "final plunge" at 12:15 a.m., with JPL receiving data and confirmation of the maneuver about 90 minutes later. Their age may be more than 4 billion years ago.

Titan's gravity nudged it onto a course back to Saturn from which there would be no return.

"We will have to rewrite many textbooks on planetary science". Cassini's on-board computer runs through automatic fault protection procedures in a last-ditch attempt to keep the space craft stable and safe. We learned that there are 3-D structures in the rings.

Gold Titan and Enceladus are two satellites you lesquelsla Cassini mission prompts us to think that there might be a form of life. Now, it's up to NASA to step up to the challenge and set the benchmark even higher.