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Here's What Earth Looks Like From Saturn's Rings

Here's What Earth Looks Like From Saturn's Ringsā€

The wonderful image, captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on April 12, shows Earth as a small speck of light in between the icy rings of Saturn. That maneuver, NASA told USA Today will be the probe's "final opportunity for up-close observations of the lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbons that spread across the moon's northern polar region, and the last chance to use its powerful radar to pierce the haze and make detailed images of the surface".

"Titan's gravity will bend Cassini's orbit around Saturn, shrinking it slightly, so that instead of passing just outside the rings, the spacecraft will begin its finale dives which pass just inside the rings", NASA said in a statement on Wednesday. Cassini then transmitted images and other data to Earth after the encounter, which will be looked at by scientists investigating Titan.

The mission will conclude with a science-rich plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on September 15th.

The flyby also put Cassini on course for its dramatic last act, known as the Grand Finale.

Cassini received a large increase in velocity of approximately 1,925 mph (precisely 860.5 meters per second) with respect to Saturn from the close encounter with Titan.

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After the flyby, Cassini reached the farthest point in its orbital path around the planet at 8:46 p.m. PDT on April 22.

NASA plans to crash the spacecraft into Saturn to avoid any chance Cassini could someday collide with Titan, the ocean-bearing moon Enceladus or any other moon that has the potential to support indigenous microbial life. This week, on April 26, Cassini will initiate its Grand Finale death dive composed of 22 plunges through the gap between Saturn's rings.

Before the finale, Cassini managed to take some interesting images including an image of Earth from space.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter.



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