Cassini: The Final Chapter

The flagship-class unmanned robotic spacecraft named Cassini is planned to descend into the atmosphere of the planet Saturn; the date scheduled is Sep. 15, 2017. This is Cassini’s Grand Finale. It has run out of fuel.

“The spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997, aboard a Titan IVB/Centaur and entered orbit around Saturn on July 1, 2004, after an interplanetary voyage that included flybys of Earth, Venus, and Jupiter.”

Outer Planets Flagship include: Cassini, Galileo, Viking 1-2, and Voyager.

Very large radio telescopes on Earth were also listening to Huygens‘ 10-watt transmission using the technique of very long baseline interferometry and aperture synthesis mode.

At 11:25 CET on January 14, the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia detected the carrier signal from Huygens. The GBT continued to detect the carrier signal well after Cassini stopped listening to the incoming data stream.

The GBT sits near the heart of the United States National Radio Quiet Zone, a unique area located in the town of Green Bank, West Virginia, where authorities limit all radio transmissions to avoid emissions toward the GBT and the Sugar Grove Station.

The “Great Big Thing” is only 148 meters or 485 feet tall.

This reminds me of the 1997 film called Contact.

Farewell to The Great Cassini!

1. New NASA video of Saturn with stunning real images from Cassini
2. NASA is about to destroy a $3.26 billion spacecraft by flying it into Saturn
3. SpaceX launches secret Air Force spaceplane (Sep 7, 2017)