After 12 years of orbiting around the Saturn's system, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is about to enter a new orbit, one that can probably take the probe up close to the planet's famous rings. Just recently, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has finally initiated a series of 20 orbits high above and below Saturn's poles. As NASA officials would call it, the ring grazing orbits will bring Cassini within nearly 5,000 miles of Saturn's F ring, which marks the border of the main ring system.
The Cassini Spacecraft And It's Mission
As per Daily Mail, it was found that on Tuesday, Cassini has allegedly gotten a gravitational assist from Titan, which happens to be Saturn's big and well-known moon. Consequently, this has then put the spacecraft on course to graze Saturn's main outer rings over the next five months. It was found that in the first two orbits, Cassini will fly through a faint ring, which was produced when a meteor struck two of Saturn's small moons.
In one of her statements, Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California has explained that they consider this phase of the mission as "Cassini's Ring-Grazing Orbits" due to the fact that they will be skimming past the outer edge of the rings. In addition, Spilker has further revealed that they have two instruments that can sample particles and gases as they cross the ring plane, so at some point, Cassini is also 'grazing' on the rings. Accordingly, it was found that Grazing the edges of the rings will provide some of the closest-ever studies of the outer portions of Saturn's main rings which are namely the A, B and F rings.
The Verge has further reported that Cassini's first graze of the F ring is scheduled to occur on December 4th. During that pass, Cassini will also briefly ignite its main engine to help fine-tune its orbit. Ultimately, experts have highly emphasized that if all goes according to plan, it will be the 183rd time the spacecraft turns on its engine, as well as its last time. Although authorities have revealed that they could still decide to use the engine again, the main plan is to complete the remaining maneuvers using thrusters.