Yesterday, on Wednesday 26 April, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft for the first time in the history of space travel passed between Saturn and its rings.
However, dispatchers will not receive data from the device until about 7:30 GMT today, when a communication session with the device takes place.
“Cassini” was not available for communication with the Earth, as scientists used a wide antenna of the device as a “shield”, covering valuable scientific instruments of the probe, which could be damaged by fragments from the material of Saturn’s rings, presumably filling this previously unexplored in situ area of space . Slightly damaged by splinters, the antenna can remain operational, official mission officials say.
If it turns out that the Cassini was able to withstand this passage, then the probe will have to make 21 more such passes, to the most disastrous of the device’s fall into the atmosphere of Saturn, which is scheduled for December. The gap between the atmosphere of Saturn and its rings is quite narrow, its width is only 1900 kilometers.
The need for a controlled immersion of the apparatus in the atmosphere of Saturn arose in connection with the depletion of fuel supplies, which would soon lead to the impossibility of making maneuvers. The immersion of the device in the dense layers of the atmosphere of a giant planet during which it will transmit scientific data to the Earth until the signal is lost will give scientists valuable information about the parameters of the atmosphere of Saturn in its underlying layers.