News Column

Scientists Prepare for Cassini's 'Grand Finale'

July 2, 2014



The final phase of the Cassini spacecraft's remarkable mission, scheduled to begin in late 2016, will be dubbed the "Grand Finale," NASA announces.

With input from more than 2,000 members of the public, team members on NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn have chosen a name for the final phase of the mission: the Cassini Grand Finale, NASA announced June 30.

Starting in late 2016, the Cassini spacecraft will begin a daring set of orbits that NASA described as "in some ways, like a whole new mission."

The spacecraft will repeatedly climb high above Saturn's north pole, flying just outside its narrow F ring. Cassini will probe the water-rich plume of the active geysers on the planet's moon, Enceladus, and then will hop over the rings and dive between the planet and innermost ring 22 times.

Because the spacecraft will be in close proximity to Saturn, the team had been calling this phase "the proximal orbits," but they felt the public could help decide on a more exciting name. In early April, the Cassini mission invited the public to vote on a list of alternative names provided by team members or to suggest ideas of their own.

"We chose a name for this mission phase that would reflect the exciting journey ahead while acknowledging that it's a big finish for what has been a truly great show," said Earl Maize, Cassini project manager at NASA'sJet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.


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Source: AllAfrica


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