The NASA spacecraft known as Cassini has just passed by Titan for the last time. Cassini used the Titan’s gravity power in order to slingshot one last probe in order to better explore the region between Saturn’s hydrogen-helium atmosphere and rings. We should mention that this will be the first time that we can get a closer glimpse at Saturn’s famous rings.
The spacecraft has flown over 608 miles which translates to around 979 kilometers around the moon. Cassini has provided scientists and space enthusiasts with vital information about Titan’s weather, environment, seas and even sand dunes. The spacecraft’s final mission had two goals, the first one was to gather additional information about Titan and to include Saturn’s rings in its orbit.
Nonetheless, Sunday marked the last time when NASA managed to gather information about Titan. NASA announced that there won’t be any other spacecraft to gather additional information about Titan for the upcoming decade or longer. We should mention that Cassini has placed different scientific sensors all over Titan’s lakes and seas which will help scientists study the moon for the years to come.
Considering the fact that Cassini’s last mission is an important milestone for space exploration, Linda Spilker who is the mission project scientist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California has stated the following: “Cassini’s up-close exploration of Titan is now behind us, but the rich volume of data the spacecraft has collected will fuel scientific study for decades to come”. With that being said, it’s pretty clear how important Cassini has been.
The first time that Cassini arrived in proximity with Saturn was back in 2004. Before Cassini managed to gather information about Titan, scientists had almost zero information about the moon. The reason why scientists didn’t have any valuable information about Titan is because it is covered beneath an orange atmosphere that’s filled with nitrogen. This is why NASA’s Voyager probes have not been able see through Titan’s atmosphere back in 1980 and 1981.