Cassini 'GoodBye Kiss' for Titan

A rendering of Cassini’s Grand Finale orbits.    
   Image NASA  JPL-Caltech

A rendering of Cassini’s Grand Finale orbits. Image NASA JPL-Caltech

The Cassini spacecraft completed its final encounter with Saturn's largest moon, Titan, before setting itself on a fatal collision course with the ringed planet later this week.

Monday's encounter was the last of more than 100 that Cassini has had with Titan since the spacecraft arrived in the Saturn system on the night of June 30, 2004.

In fact, Saturn icy moon, one of the Cassini biggest revelations includes unveiling Enceladus and the fact that it has numerous components needed for life. January 14, 2005, was the day when Huygens landed on Titan and gathered several useful information about the only moon which has a substantial atmosphere.

The geometry of the flyby causes Cassini to slow down slightly in its orbit around Saturn. Titan also has lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbons on its surface. As the Cassini mission comes to a dramatic end with a fateful plunge into Saturn on September 15, 2017, scientists are already dreaming of going back for further study. During the encounter, images and other science data have taken has expected to begin streaming to Earth soon after.

"We now know that there is another world in the solar system that has abundant liquids and organics, and therefore harbors the potential for life", noted Sarah Horst of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. One of them being the planet's magnetosphere. Because of it, scientists believe, it is hard to estimate the rotational velocity of Saturn since it is devoid of any solid surface. Another important finding that categorizes Saturn's magnetosphere is the flawless alignment of its magnetic poles with the axis of its rotation.

Though Cassini has been quite remarkable in its operation over years, it would no longer support any mission extensions. That can lead to a possibility where it can collide with any of the moons of the Saturn ending up contaminating the environment. No spacecraft has ever ventured so close to the planet before.

Cassini will have been destroyed for about 83 minutes before its final signal reaches NASA's Deep Space Network's Canberra station in Australia.

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