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Cassini Just Sent Back Images From Its First-Ever Dive Through Saturn's Rings, And They're Incredible

Scientists just got their first sight into the space between Saturn and its rings. And it's pretty magnificent.

On Wednesday, the NASA space probe Cassini made the first of 22 scheduled dives through the rings around the planet.

No human made object had ever attempted so far into those spinning bands of ice and dust particles.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute




Cassini spacecraft was traveling at speeds of 77,000 m/h through regions dense with possibly destructive particles. It had to use its dish shaped antenna as a guard, stopping any communication with Earth throughout the dive.


NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute




All day, scientists’ eagerly waited for confirmation that their courageous little space robot had made it through.

Just before mid-night Pacific Time, the Deep Space Network (a collection of telescopes that communicate with distant things in space) picked up Cassini's outlying signal.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute




An enormous cheer went up at ground control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA/JPL) in Pasadena, California, as data started streaming the billion miles back to Earth. Cassini had made it through the space and travelled carefully on the other side.
In September, the Cassini’s last dive will have it dropping straight into Saturn, and the spacecraft will be lost forever. But till then, Cassini's 'grand finale' promises to send some unbelievable images and some mesmerizing science.

The raw pictures from the most recent dive are being announced on NASA's website as they stream in. Here's some of what NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft has seen:

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute




NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute


NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute



This article was originally printed by the Washington Post.

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