Something extraordinary happened both on Earth as well as in space this Wednesday, April 26. The NASA’s Cassini dived through the gap between Saturn and its magnificent rings, becoming the first ever spacecraft to explore the region.
A stream of pictures showing Saturn’s swirling clouds, massive hurricane and odd six-sided vortex weather system were transmitted back to Earth by Nasa’s Cassini, which has been exploring Saturn for the past 13 years. These photographs were taken just 1,900 miles above Saturn’s atmosphere while traveling at a whopping speed of 77,000 mph relative to Saturn.
Let us have a glimpse at some of these photos.
Description: A cyclone spinning in Saturn’s atmosphere.
Description: Banding in Saturn’s Atmosphere
Description: Cloud Features in Saturn’s Atmosphere
Scientists enounce that the pictures show details never seen before – there’s an incredible close-up, for instance, of the gigantic swirling hurricane at Saturn’s north pole.National Aeronautics and Space Administration planetary sciences chief Jim Green said- “Cassini spacecraft has once again blazed a trail, showing us new wonders and demonstrating where our curiosity can take us if we dare,”
The information gathered by Nasa’s Cassini could help scientists find the source of Saturn’s magnetic field, determine how fast the gas giant rotates and figure out what lies beneath its layers of clouds.
Although everything seems great yet officials are not certain whether Nasa’s Cassini will be able to survive all its ring dives. The gap between Saturn and the rings is about 1,500 miles (2,400 km) wide and likely littered with ice particles.Cassini is traveling through the gap at a relative speed of about some 77,000 mph (124,000 kph) so even small particles striking the spacecraft can be deadly for it.
To protect Cassini, it’s dish-shaped communications antenna were temporarily repositioned to serve as a shield. The spacecraft will make similar maneuvers during its subsequent dives, the next of which is scheduled for Tuesday.
On its final dive on September 15, Cassini is destined to destroy itself by flying directly into Saturn’s crushing atmosphere.
Related Read: NASA Says Mars Spacecraft’s Missions Might be Delayed