On September 15, 2017, Cassini will enter Saturn’s atmosphere and break into very small pieces before burning up entirely. For the past 7 years, the satellite’s exploration of Saturn and its moons has resulted in valuable data and glorious images. Now as it runs out of fuel it will begin it’s final mission—a deep dive into Saturn’s atmosphere sending data back to Earth for as long as it can.
Personally, I find it difficult to avoid anthropomorphizing these space vehicles, especially one I have observed closely for so long, and watching this final mission continues to be quite moving to me. The remarkable images of Saturn’s rings were my desktop background and I closely watched the craft travel to the moons. I followed Cassini’s Twitter feed (CassiniSaturn) and saw the images and data come in daily. Now this week I watch it end, and as NASA said in one of their animations, Cassini will become part of Saturn itself. (To see details and to watch the amazing animation, see NASA’s “Grand Finale Toolkit.”)
Here at Annual Reviews, our authors have been using the data from Cassini’s exploration of Saturn for many years, and we are highlighting some of those articles during the culmination of Cassini’s mission.
Thank you, Cassini.
“Enceladus: An Active Ice World in the Saturn System” by John R. Spencer and Francis Nimmo. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Volume 41
“Planetary Reorientation” by Isamu Matsuyama, Fancis Nimmo, and Jerry X. Mitrovica. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Volume 42
“The Climate of Titan” by Jonathan L. Mitchell and Juan M. Lora Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Volume 44
“Shape, Internal Structure, Zonal Winds, and Gravitational Field of Rapidly Rotating Jupiter-Like Planets” by Keke Zhang, Dali Kong, and Gerald Schubert. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Volume 45
“The Lakes and Seas of Titan” by Alexander G. Hayes Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Volume 44
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