spaceSpace and Physics

Watch Cassini Dive Over Saturn In This Amazing Video


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer

Artist's impression of Cassini. NASA/JPL-Caltech

Had enough Cassini news yet? Well, get used to it, because up until the mission ends in September there’s going to be plenty to talk about.

And here’s another tidbit. NASA has put together a video of Cassini’s first Grand Finale dive last week. This took the spacecraft between Saturn and its rings for the first time.


The video shows Cassini moving over the north pole of Saturn, as its camera then tracks its way down the gas giant. In total there is one hour of observations, beginning with a swirling vortex at the north pole.

During the flyby, Cassini’s altitude above Saturn drops from 72,400 kilometers (45,000 miles) to 6,700 kilometers (4,200 miles). This greatly improved the resolution of features that could be seen from 8.7 kilometers (5.4 miles) to 0.8 kilometers (0.5 miles) per pixel.

At the end of the movie, the frame of the camera also rotates, indicating the moment Cassini crossed the plane of the rings. At this point, the antenna of the spacecraft was pointed forwards, to act as a shield against any debris. There was surprisingly barely anything there, however.

"The images from the first pass were great, but we were conservative with the camera settings,” said Andrew Ingersoll, a member of the Cassini imaging team based at Caltech in Pasadena, California in a statement. “We plan to make updates to our observations for a similar opportunity on June 28 that we think will result in even better views.”


Anyway, enough talking. Check out the video below.


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