Friday 24 November 2017

Cassini spacecraft survives trip between Saturn and its rings

Earth, visible as a pinprick of light between the mighty rings of Saturn, with the moon visible a short distance to the left of the planet
Earth, visible as a pinprick of light between the mighty rings of Saturn, with the moon visible a short distance to the left of the planet

Nasa's Cassini spacecraft has survived an unprecedented trip between Saturn and its rings - and has amazing pictures to show for it.

Flight controllers regained contact with Cassini on Thursday, a day after it became the first craft to cross the hazardous region.

The rings are comprised of countless icy particles, any of which could have impacted on Cassini.

The spacecraft's big dish antenna served as a shield as it hurtled through the narrow gap, temporarily cutting off communications.

Cassini skimmed 1,900 miles above Saturn's cloud tops, closer than ever before, and came within 200 miles of the innermost visible ring. Scientists say the pictures show details never seen before.

Twenty-one more crossings are planned - about one a week - before Cassini's fatal plunge in September.

Press Association

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