Today’s Google Doodle takes you to a land far, far away and marks a key date in the Cassini Spacecraft mission: The Grand Finale. The doodle depicts an adorable Cassini Spacecraft getting up close and personal with Saturn.
The craft has been in space for almost 20 years, the past 13 of which have been spent in orbit around Saturn. Today, it becomes the first to ever dive into the narrow gap between Saturn and its icy rings. “At times, the spacecraft will skirt the very inner edge of the rings; at other times, it will skim the outer edges of the atmosphere,” NASA writes in a post about the Grand Finale. “While the mission team is confident the risks are well understood, there could still be surprises. It's the kind of bold adventure that could only be undertaken at the end of the mission.”
The spacecraft, which is a joint mission on behalf of NASA, the Italian Space Agency, and the European Space Agency, has been taking stunning photographs, collecting data about Saturn’s magnetic field and the material that makes up its rings, and mapping the planet’s gravity.
Cassini has already made headlines on its epic journey in space. Earlier this month, the spacecraft found that one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus, may support life.
If all goes according to plan, Earth will have an opportunity to reconnect with Cassini at 3 a.m. tomorrow, April 27. Only then will NASA have its first glimpse of the data and photos that the spacecraft collected on its final dive.
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