It’s the Beginning of the End for Cassini (But the Pictures Will Be Awesome)

After more than twelve years in orbit around Saturn, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is now in its final year of operation…and newly-positioned in an orbit that will send it soaring high over the planet’s north pole as well as close by the outer edge of its glorious shining rings. Over the course of 20 week-long “ring-grazing orbits” — the…

Cassini Bids Farewell to Dione with Some Fantastic Final Views

NASA’s venerable Cassini spacecraft may still have another two years left in its exploration of the Saturn system but on Monday, August 17, it had its final intimate visit with Dione, one of Saturn’s largest natural satellites at nearly 700 miles (1,126 km) across. On that day Cassini passed within 300 miles (480 km) of Dione at 2:33 p.m. EDT (18:33…

More Hope for Life on Enceladus?

Researchers on the Cassini mission team have identified large salt grains in the plumes emanating from Saturn’s icy satellite Enceladus, making an even stronger case for the existence of a salty liquid ocean beneath the moon’s frozen surface.

Northern Exposure

Cassini gets a nice look at Enceladus’ icy, cratered north pole in this image, taken on December 21, 2010. In the background we catch a glimpse of Saturn’s rings as well! Fantastic image. The Cassini spacecraft was about 20,000 miles (34000 km) from Enceladus when this was taken, using its narrow-angle camera. 318 miles across…

Moons, Moons Everywhere

Released today, this image shows one of many small (half-mile wide) moons that orbit Saturn within the rings themselves, creating a “propellers” of gravitationally-tugged ring particles on either side of it. The Cassini team has been watching these interesting ring features for some time, and has carefully tracked eleven of the larger ones over the…