The grand finale of NASA Cassini spacecraft has set one more milestone after the successful second dive on May 2 between the Saturn and its rings.
With its camera — equipped with CL1 and CL2 filter — pointed at its rings and away from the planet’s surface, Cassini offered amazing images with an eerie touch.
The second dive also gave Cassini a broader proximity to the planet’s outer atmosphere and came within 1,820 miles radius. Cassini’s distance from the inner edge of Saturn’s D ring was a mere 2,980 miles.
Faint Ringlets And Main Rings Photographed
Commenting on the close encounters of the second dive, NASA noted that Cassini’s imaging cameras, called Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS), amply leveraged the opportunity in imaging Saturn’s rings while the sun was hiding behind the planet.
This led to fine imaging of many faint ringlets embedded in the main rings that are too difficult to observe outside the proximity.
The ISS also picked up images to create a movie and observe structural characteristics of Saturn’s D ring, added NASA.
Why Is Cassini’s Second Dive So Special?
The second dive brought the spacecraft closest ever to Saturn with a possibility to study the rings and the planet in greater details.
“No spacecraft has ever been this close to Saturn before. We could only rely on predictions, based on our experience with Saturn’s other rings, of what we thought this gap between the rings and Saturn would be like,” said Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Cassini “rolled,” for the first time, to calibrate its magnetometer. It is an instrument Cassini will use to measure high-intensity magnetic field when it is closest to Saturn
The spacecraft studied Saturn’s magnetosphere by examining how excited gasses, under the magnetic influence, impact the formation of Saturn’s auroras. It also helped in gleaning new information on how Saturn’s inner workings affect the planet’s atmosphere.
During the second dive, the Composite Infrared Spectrometer of Cassini was also pressed into service to observe the composition of the surface material at Saturn’s moon Rhea.
(Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) There are 20 more dives left until Cassini finally plunges into the Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, ending the mission that started in 2004.
(Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) The second dive gave unusual proximity for Cassini to the Saturn. Pointing its camera to Saturn rings, the spacecraft took images using filters CL1 and CL2.
(Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) The second dive has given brilliant images with the sun hiding behind the Saturn.
(Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) Cassini spacecraft is in the final chapter of its exploration trip as the grand finale. The image of Saturn’s ring was captured during the second dive on May 2.
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