Tech Times reported on April 6 that NASA is already preparing for the final stages of the Cassini-Huygens Mission, even as the Cassini spacecraft continues to capture photos and send data.

The Space agency has also explained why the termination of the mission has something to do with preventing the Cassini spacecraft from contaminating Saturn's moons. Now, NASA released details on how the Saturn probe will spend its last hours in a sad, stunning, and educational "Grand Finale."

Grand Finale Overview

According to NASA, the Cassini-Huygens Mission is entering its final chapter beginning April until the spacecraft's final day on Sept. 15, 2017. From this time period, the Cassini spacecraft will undertake a series of 22 dives between the planet Saturn and its icy rings.

The space agency says Cassini's final mission is the first of its kind, despite ending with a final plunge to become part of Saturn.

The Cassini spacecraft will also continue to collect and send data back to Earth until its final "breath" for the sake of gathering new science.

"What we learn from these final orbits will help to improve our understanding of how giant planets - and planetary systems everywhere - form and evolve," NASA writes.

NASA is definitely focusing on the "Grand" aspect of Cassini's finale.

Diving Details

The final chapter of the Cassini-Huygens Mission begins with the Cassini spacecraft's 127th and final pass by Titan early on April 22. During this time, Titan's gravity will pull Cassini and end its orbit enough to change its course from the outer ring to the inner rings.

The first orbit of the inner rings will begin on April 23 and will have its first pass through the gap between Saturn and its rings by April 26. The first orbit is expected to conclude on April 29, where it will begin the second dive.

During these daring dives, Cassini is expected to retrieve detailed map and information about Saturn's gravity and magnetic fields in order to determine the planet's internal structure. It will also determine how much material is in the rings, collect samples of ring particles, and capture ultra-close photos of the giant planet's rings and clouds.

On the early hours of Sept. 15, the mission team will gather to celebrate the 20-year Cassini-Huygens Mission and watch the spacecraft enter Saturn's atmosphere and burn out like a meteor.

Watch the animated video below explaining aspects of Cassini's "Grand Finale."


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