Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Approaching Saturn: Cassini-Huygens

The Cassini spacecraft is scheduled to drop into orbit around Saturn after a 96 minute burn:
During the orbit insertion, Cassini will fly closer to Saturn than at any other time during the spacecraft's planned four-year tour of Saturn. This provides an unprecedented opportunity to study the planet and rings at close range. It will pass approximately 20,000 kilometers (12,427 miles) above Saturn's cloud tops, closer than any other spacecraft in history. It will also be flying about 10 times closer to the rings than at any other point in the mission.
The images being beamed back -- including several GIF animations of Titan and Phoebe rotations -- are spectacular:

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

The Cassini-Huygens image gallery can be found here.

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