The probe “Cassini” today will dive into the atmosphere of Titan

Зонд "Кассини" сегодня нырнет в атмосферу Титана

The probe “Cassini” preparing to terminate his life in the following year, making today a potentially dangerous passage through the lower layers of the atmosphere of Titan, the most earth-like moon in the Solar system, according to NASA.

Interplanetary station “Cassini”, who worked in space for almost 20 years, today begins the last stage in his life, entering into the stage, which with the filing of the public and journalists was officially called the “Finale of the Opera”.

At 15 o’clock 30 minutes Moscow time Cassini will perform a series of orbital maneuvers that simultaneously will lead him on an unusual path of rapprochement with the Titan, the most unusual moon of Saturn, and transferred it to a new orbit, where it will constantly fly through the rings of the giant planet.

Thanks to these maneuvers Cassini will approach Titan at a record small distance and will actually fly through the upper layers of its atmosphere, allowing the probe tools to collect unique information about the structure of this moon of Saturn is similar to Earth because it has weather, seasons and even their rivers and seas.

In particular, spectrometers Cassini will map Titan’s surface, will get detailed photos of the North pole, and measures the temperature of its surface and “feel” of the hydrocarbon clouds of the planet. In addition, the camera probe will attempt to photograph the sun glare on the surface of the seas of Titan, whose spectrum will help us to know their exact chemical composition.

The Titan will help the probe to move on to a new flight path – using the gravitational pull of the planet, the pilots of the mission hope to bring Cassini to elongated elliptical orbit tilted to the plane of rotation of Saturn’s 60 degrees. Such an orbit allows Cassini to periodically fly through the rings of Saturn and to study their composition and other physical and chemical properties.

The first such flight will take place very soon – it will happen on December 4th. In total, Cassini will fly 20 times through the rings of Saturn, after which it will converge with the Titan once again changed the flight path and come to the “finish line” that ended in a clash with Saturn.

Mission “Cassini-Huygens” — a joint project of space agencies in the US, Europe and Italy to study Saturn. He refers to the so-called flagship missions, the most ambitious and expensive project of the American space program. Space probe “Cassini” the descent apparatus “Huygens” was launched in 1997 and reached the planet’s orbit July 1, 2004. “Huygens” has studied the atmosphere and surface of Titan, moon of Saturn, “Cassini” after the separation of the unit continued to study the planet and its satellites.

At the end of September 2010, Cassini began a new phase of its mission, called “Solstice” (Solstice): term of operation was extended to 2017, and the probe gave scientists the first opportunity to examine the entire seasonal period of Saturn.

The last phase of the life of the probe, named “the finale of the Opera” (Grand Finale) on the results of voting among the visitors of the website of NASA, began at the end of 2016. Cassini will make a series of potentially dangerous maneuvers, which will allow astronomers to look at Saturn and its satellites with new perspectives. In the final plan to push Cassini to Saturn and collect unique data on the structure and physical properties of layers of its atmosphere.