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Nasa spacecraft dives through Saturn and its rings

Nasa spacecraft dives through Saturn and its rings

It's shaped like a dish and measures 13 feet across. The information could help scientists find the source of Saturn's magnetic field, determine how fast the gas giant rotates and figure out what lies beneath its layers of clouds.

LA 2024 CEO Gene Sykes said: "LA 2024 congratulates Los Angeles' own NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the success of the Cassini space orbiter and its Grand Finale dives through Saturn's rings".

NASA's Cassini space probe has dived through the narrow gap between Saturn and its icy rings overnight to take its first pictures of the planet.

The maneuver will ultimately destroy the nuclear-powered probe, burning it up in the clouds of Saturn on September 15, 2017.

Giovanni Domenico Cassini, an Italian mathematician and astronomer born in 1625, was the first person to notice the division of the rings of Saturn in 1675.

Launched in October 1997, Cassini arrived at Saturn in July 2004 and dropped off a lander built by the European Space Agency that successfully completed a parachute descent to the surface of Titan the following January. But Cassini has used up just about all of its propellant and once it runs out, the spacecraft will no longer be controllable. The view was captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft as it became the first spacecraft to venture between Saturn and its rings.

Cassini recorded a fresh movie of the freakish feature, which is about the width of two Earths, before it dove inside Saturn's rings.

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Over her life, Cassini has dedicated herself to sharing with us the wonders that is Saturn through data and photography.

On November 30, 2016 - NASA's Cassini spacecraft began the daring set of ring-grazing orbits, skimming past the outside edge of Saturn's main rings.

Cassini mission project manager Earle Maise said the risk puts them at a 97 percent chance of success. The exact placement of Cassini's journey through the ring gap changes with each orbit.

Two more unprocessed Cassini images of Saturn's atmosphere. The fly through Saturn's rings is part of the last phase of Cassini's mission.

Cassini was programmed to collect science data while close to the planet and turn toward Earth to make contact about 20 hours after the crossing, the statement said, adding that Cassini's next dive through the gap is scheduled for Tuesday.

The fact that Cassini survived its first ring crossing is a big deal.

"If the mass is small, then the rings are young and they have been formed by a different process". So buckle up, because there's lots more awesome eye candy in store. "Now, on the other hand, if the rings are less massive, perhaps they're very young, maybe forming as little as 100 million years ago".

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