Grand Finale

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Grand Finale

Post by Geezaldinho on Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:36 am

The Cassini probe will be deliberately plunged into Saturn early Friday Morning to end what was a 7 year voyage to Saturn and 13 years of measuring Saturn, its moons, and the rings.

The decision to end the study is because manoevering fuel and áthe Plutonium 238 reactor that powers the probe are so depleted the probe won't be able to be directed much longer.

They didn't want the ábacteria and Plutonium to possibly interact with Saturn's Moons Titan and Enceladus, compromising possible life there. áBoth moons show evidence of liquid water and are the best candidates for life in the solar system.
( Titan, btw, is larger than Pluto, the Moon, and Mercury)
Plutonium is one of the most poisonous substances known, and they didn't want to risk spraying 72 pounds of it on a moon.
Previous probes (Voyager, etc.) were directed out beyond the Kuiper belt.

Cameras and sensors áwill be on until they are destroyed. áI think coverage will get good just before 1:00 AM Friday. It'll be interesting to see what they find.

The nasa countdown site is here https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/saturn-tour/where-is-cassini-now/

You can watch along or on NASA TV.


There might be data being streamed as late as 4:00AM Pacific for you early risers.
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Re: Grand Finale

Post by SouthCarolinaPilot on Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:07 pm

Wow! That's some neat science. Thanks for sharing this. I had no idea.
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Re: Grand Finale

Post by Geezaldinho on Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:44 pm

If you are still on the E coast, might find they are still getting data at 7:00 or a bit after, so have your coffee early.
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Re: Grand Finale

Post by A_Fan on Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:50 pm

I'm assuming it will be on Youtube at more reasonable hour for those of us who are not night owls like some folks.
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Re: Grand Finale

Post by DoubleDipper on Thu Sep 14, 2017 7:26 pm

For twelve years Cassini has been the object of study and admiration for the roughly 600 junior and senior high school students I have taught on a part-time basis in our Aviation Technology classes.

Each week a new set of pictures from Cassini go up on our screen for everyone to enjoy and study, and often while some might be in the flight simulator, others memorize Cassini's various parts and their function using NASA's interactive space craft model that helps them give class presentations with quizzes for their fellow students.

Cassini has opened the minds of many young people to explore new things here on earth and it our solar system and beyond. We'll miss Cassini because the little probe provided us so much to learn, but there'll be other projects that will be almost, if not equally, as important and intriguing for young minds who want to know more.

We'll be having a "delayed" watch party using NASA video at our school next week....no champagne allowed, but there will be a couple of cakes with a model of Cassini on top.
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Re: Grand Finale

Post by Geezaldinho on Fri Sep 15, 2017 3:11 am

A_Fan wrote:I'm assuming it will be on Youtube at more reasonable hour for those of us who are not night owls like some folks.

The latest view is that last data will come around 4:55 AM. I'm not staying up much longer.

I'm sure there will be several presentations. Look for one around 6:30 AM (pacific) and then a preliminary analysis around 1:00 PM and one sometime after 8:00 pm which will have some of the last processed pictures. The Links I gave will probably be the best places to look.

Eventually you can expect some slicker presentations on YouTube like are already up for Cassini's Huygens probe which landed on Titan.

But is appears they traded pictures in the atmosphere for mass spectrometer data to find out that the atmosphere actually is composed of. Pictures take a high data rate and they didn't think the craft would survive long enough to send pictures with the large radio disk on the craft. Most of the data will come from lower bandwidth antennae and be about the spectrometer data. They are particularly looking for things like the ratio of hydrogen to helium in the atmosphere which will give information on the age of the planet and how it was formed. They will also be looking for á Water "ring rain" that comes from Saturns rings. That stuff might be ready by the 1:00 PM conference.

So the real last stuff will likely come to us as interpreted data from earth scientists.

And, of course, all the Cassini data is public domain and will be available eventually on the nasa site somewhere. There is already TONS of stuff you can look at. As one scientist said, there will be lots of PhD theses written up in the next decades on the huge mass of data they already have.

I watched the 3:00 AM press conference and they are already planing return trips to the two moons with liquid water on them, probably with probes with spectrometers on them tuned to look for the chemical signals of compounds associated with life. áI think they view finding liguid water that far from the sun was one of the big surprises they need to look at again.

And they mentioned that the USA is producing Pu 238 again. Stocks were down to about 30kg, barely enough for a half dozen probes and they were in competition with the spy satÚlite folks for that.

The Russians have lots more, but they ain't giving theirs up.
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