Apr 25, 2017 | Updated: 06:17 AM EDT

Cassini Approaching For Its Final & 127th Flyby Towards Titan [Watch]

Apr 20, 2017 11:23 AM EDT

Crazy Engineering: Astrodynamics
(Photo : NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Youtube) NASA's Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn for nearly 13 years, is beginning its Grand Finale — and it's thanks to some Crazy Engineering! A team of engineers called astrodynamicists used math and physics to plot a course for the hardy spacecraft that would send it on a series of dives through the gap between Saturn and its famous rings. And as always, the efforts of these engineers are helping to enable some truly thrilling exploration and scientific discovery.

This weekend NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is going to take a final tour towards the haze-enshrouded moon of Saturn, Titan. During this final approach, the space probe will get the final opportunity to take a closer look into the lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbons that are mainly spread across the polar region of the northern hemisphere.

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Cassini will use its powerful radar to penetrate the foggy atmosphere of Titan and take detailed pictures of the surface. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory(JPL) has declared that the spacecraft will dive into Titan’s atmosphere on April 21, 11:08 p.m. PDT (2:08 a.m EDT Apil 22).

Cassini will glide over Titan’s surface as close as close as possible during the encounter. According to the report by Phys, it will maintain 13,000 mph (21,000 kph) speed during the flyby over titan surface at 608 miles (979 kilometers) of altitude. Since the beginning of its journey, Cassini successfully completed 126 flyby missions and it would be its 127th and final mission.

This orbital flyby is the gateway of Cassini’s grand finale. Within September 15, Cassini will complete 22 orbits. During the orbital rotation of Titan, it would pass between Saturn and its rings. It is a targeted flyby, the rocket engine thrusters of the spacecraft would accurately guide it toward the encounter.

Titan’s gravity will distort the Casini’s orbital path during the fly by and pull the spacecraft closer. Scientists are predicting that Cassini will take the advantage of this situation, it will monitor the changes in methane lakes and seas, and analyze the composition and depth for the first and last time. In addition, the radar instruments will also search Titan’s Magic island. It has a mysterious feature which changes the appearance of that place over the time. Scientists would gather some more detailed information what is behind the mysterious phenomena, is it waves, bubbles, floating debris, or something else.


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