NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has successful executed its historic first-ever dive through the narrow gap between the planet Saturn and its rings, marking the beginning of the ‘Grand Finale’ of the 20-year-long journey.
The spacecraft is in the process of beaming back science data collected during its passage, through NASA’s Deep Space Network Goldstone Complex in California’s Mojave Desert. Jim Green, Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA in the US, yesterday told that no spacecraft has ever been this close to Saturn before.
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. Its next dive through the gap is scheduled for May 2nd. Launched in 1997, Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2004.