Cassini transmits first images from new orbit

December 7, 2016, NASA
This view from NASA's Cassini spacecraft was obtained about half a day before its first close pass by the outer edges of Saturn's main rings during its penultimate mission phase. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has sent to Earth its first views of Saturn's atmosphere since beginning the latest phase of its mission. The new images show scenes from high above Saturn's northern hemisphere, including the planet's intriguing hexagon-shaped jet stream.

Cassini began its new mission phase, called its Ring-Grazing Orbits, on Nov. 30. Each of these weeklong orbits—20 in all—carries the spacecraft high above Saturn's before sending it skimming past the outer edges of the planet's main rings.

Cassini's imaging cameras acquired these latest views on Dec. 2 and 3, about two days before the first ring-grazing approach to the planet. Future passes will include images from near closest approach, including some of the closest-ever views of the outer rings and small moons that orbit there.

"This is it, the beginning of the end of our historic exploration of Saturn. Let these images—and those to come—remind you that we've lived a bold and daring adventure around the solar system's most magnificent planet," said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team lead at Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado.

The next pass by the rings' outer edges is planned for Dec. 11. The ring-grazing orbits will continue until April 22, when the last close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan will once again reshape Cassini's flight path. With that encounter, Cassini will begin its Grand Finale, leaping over the rings and making the first of 22 plunges through the 1,500-mile-wide (2,400-kilometer) gap between Saturn and its innermost ring on April 26.

This collage of images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn's northern hemisphere and rings as viewed with four different spectral filters. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

On Sept. 15, the mission's planned conclusion will be a final dive into Saturn's atmosphere. During its plunge, Cassini will transmit data about the atmosphere's composition until its signal is lost.

Launched in 1997, Cassini has been touring the Saturn system since arriving in 2004 for an up-close study of the planet, its rings and moons. Cassini has made numerous dramatic discoveries, including a global ocean with indications of hydrothermal activity within the moon Enceladus, and liquid methane seas on another moon, Titan.

Explore further: Cassini makes first ring-grazing plunge

More information: For details about Cassini's ring-grazing orbits, visit saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/2966/ring-grazing-orbits

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9 comments

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someone11235813
5 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2016
Hexagonal storms, How is this even possible?
NIPSZX
1 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2016
The hexagonal storms, I believe, are from the electromagnet force. Nice color pics
DrBaldo
5 / 5 (1) Dec 07, 2016
I would not complain if the government spent every last one of my tax dollars on worthwhile projects like Cassini!!!
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Dec 07, 2016
Hexagonal storms, How is this even possible?
@someone11235813
here is a great link (the Planetary Society) that delves into the subject: http://www.planet...471.html

i found the blog to have compelling experiments that demonstrate the pattern we see from Cassini without the need to invoke special circumstances (like the electric universe cult will surely regurgitate soon enough)
yep
1 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2016
Ah yes, Capitain stupid fluid dynamics work with their own special circumstance like ignoring the several concentric rings with varying temperatures. Good you are here to make consensus science safe from any heresy.
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 08, 2016
@idiot cult peon yep
Good you are here to make consensus science safe from any heresy
no, i only promote science

period

that means, by definition, that i will never promote your eu cult because it is pseudoscience and doesn't comply with the scientific method
like ignoring
i am not ignoring anything

you give scientific evidence supporting your argument and i accept it

the catch is: source is important
don't link your eu cult site, nor any blog, nor any random bullsh*t pseudoscience
just link a peer reviewed journal study with an impact in the subject

that is how science works
Intuition
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 12, 2016
@idiot cult peon yep
Good you are here to make consensus science safe from any heresy
no, i only promote science

period

that means, by definition, that i will never promote your eu cult because it is pseudoscience and doesn't comply with the scientific method
like ignoring
i am not ignoring anything

you give scientific evidence supporting your argument and i accept it

the catch is: source is important
don't link your eu cult site, nor any blog, nor any random bullsh*t pseudoscience
just link a peer reviewed journal study with an impact in the subject

that is how science works


You mean the peer reviewed stuff like that of the IPPC? That's laughable. The scientific method, as you refer to, has long since lost credibility. They should call peer reviewed "pal" reviewed because you are all bias.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2016
@delusional intuition
You mean the peer reviewed stuff like that of the IPPC?
are you referring to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?
or the International Plant Protection Convention?
perhaps you mean IPPC pharmacy?
you're not being specific...

of course, none of those is a peer reviewed Journal either
- however they do utilise peer reviewed and validated science, none of which you've actually presented as counter argument for anything
The scientific method, as you refer to, has long since lost credibility
and i can prove you're wrong simply because you can't actually provide evidence other than your personal claim

feel free to link reputable evidence - any aether or similar pseudoscience crap will be ignored
the reason is simple: pseudoscience, but definition, doesn't follow the scientific method
therefore it's not valid nor evidence based

Cassini1
5 / 5 (1) Dec 12, 2016
These vortices look quite deep. How large they could be?

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