15 September 2017

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How to Watch Live Follow Cassini’s Grand Finale End of Mission

How to Watch Live Follow Cassini’s Grand Finale End of Mission
You can also watch the live stream on this page:
Live stream is at the post end.
After two decades in space, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is nearing the end of its remarkable journey of exploration. Having expended almost every bit of the rocket propellant it carried to Saturn, operators are deliberately plunging Cassini into the planet to ensure Saturn's moons will remain pristine for future exploration—in particular, the ice-covered, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus, but also Titan, with its intriguing pre-biotic chemistry.

It takes about 83 minutes for radio signals to travel across the 1.4 billion km between Earth and Saturn.

No images will be taken during the final plunge into Saturn, as the data transmission rate required to send images is too high and would prevent other high-value science data from being returned.

The final images will be taken on 14 September and are planned to include images of Titan, Enceladus, moonlet ‘Peggy’, a propeller feature in the rings and a color montage of Saturn and its rings, including the aurora at the north pole

Eight instruments (CDA, CIRS, INMS, MAG, MIMI, RPWS, RSS, UVIS) will collect data during the final plunge, transmitting it back to Earth in near-real time.

The mission is ending because, after two decades in space, its fuel is running out. To ensure a safe disposal of the spacecraft, and to avoid an unplanned impact onto pristine icy satellites such as ocean-bearing moon Enceladus, Cassini is being directed into the gas planet itself, where it will burn up.

Since April, Cassini has been making weekly dives through the 2000 km gap between Saturn and its rings. This ‘Grand Finale’ maximizes the scientific return of the mission, giving close dives past the inner and outer edges of the rings and the planet’s small inner moons, as well as close encounters with the upper reaches of Saturn’s atmosphere.

The 22 Grand Finale orbits were supported by ESA ground stations, which received signals from Cassini to gather crucial radio science and gravitational science data.

A final distant flyby with Titan on 11 September gave the gravitational assist needed to put the spacecraft on an impact course with Saturn

On Sept. 15, 2017, the spacecraft will make its final approach to the giant planet Saturn. But this encounter will be like no other. This time, Cassini will dive into the planet's atmosphere, sending science data for as long as its small thrusters can keep the spacecraft's antenna pointed at Earth. Soon after, Cassini will burn up and disintegrate like a meteor.

After almost 20 years in space, the Cassini mission will end on September 15, 2017 at about 5 a.m. PDT (8 a.m. EDT).

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.

The international Cassini mission reaches its dramatic finale this Friday by plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere, concluding 13-years of exploration around the ringed planet.

The latest mission status reports from NASA are provided here.

Mission updates are provided on Twitter from NASA’s @CassiniSaturn account, and shared via @esascience.

On 15 September @esaoperations will also share live updates from ESA’s mission control in Darmstadt where teams will follow Cassini’s final plunge using the Agency’s deep-space ground station in Australia.

You can also watch the live stream on this page:
(Note that other broadcasts will play here outside of the below times)

September 15, 2017  - Click on the play button to watch live stream
~03:00 GMT / ~05:00 CEST: Final images expected to begin appearing online in Cassini raw image gallery
11:00-12:30 GMT / 13:00-14:30 CEST: Live commentary, covering end of mission (loss of signal expected on Earth ~11:55 GMT/13:55 CEST)
13:30 GMT/15:30 CEST: Post-mission news conference

Friday, Sept. 15, 7-8:30 a.m. EDT: Cassini mission's "Grand Finale." Live commentary Friday, Sept. 15, 9:30 a.m. EDT: Cassini post-mission news conference from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

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