Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

253,161 subscribers and counting ...

Video: Cassini’s final crazy engineering

During Cassini’s close pass of Titan on April 21-22, Titan’s gravity will bend Cassini’s orbit around Saturn, shrinking it slightly, so that instead of passing just outside the rings, the spacecraft will begin its Grand Finale dives just inside the rings. Wow!

NASA is saying – and this surely seems true – that the final chapter for the Cassini spacecraft at Saturn is, in many ways, like a brand new mission. In the coming year, Cassini will dive through the unexplored space between Saturn and its rings 22 times. The video above tells how a team of NASA engineers called astrodynamicists used math and physics to plot a course for Cassini that would send it on its Grand Finale dives. Remarkable!

Deborah Byrd

MORE ARTICLES