Published: Sun, April 23, 2017
Sci-tech | By Doreen King

NASA Image Shows Earth Between The Rings Of Saturn

NASA Image Shows Earth Between The Rings Of Saturn

The photo, which shows the Earth as a tiny bright dot in a black sea of space, was shot at a distance of 870 million miles. While adjusting the orbit, Cassini will look into Titan for the last time for any traces of life on its surface that contains Methane.

After almost 20 years in space, seven of them spent traveling to the ringed planet, Cassini feels like family.

Saturn's moon Enceladus lies within the densest part of the planet's E ring, a wide band of dust and ice particles that forms the outermost ring orbiting the planet.

Cassini's days are numbered, but the probe is making the most if its waning mission.

Cassini spacecraft will make its final close flyby of Saturn's largest moon Titan on April 21, NASA has said.

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This image made available by NASA in April 2017 shows a still from the short film "Cassini's Grand Finale", with the spacecraft diving between Saturn and the planet's innermost ring.

During one of its recent ring-grazing dives, Cassini managed to capture an incredible image showing not only Saturn's rings, but a small speck of light that is actually our home planet Earth, peeking from between the icy rings! During the last dive on September 15, Cassini is slated to destroy itself by flying directly into Saturn's crushing atmosphere.

Two years ago, Carolyn Porco, the longtime leader of Cassini's imaging team, teared up during an on-camera interview about the mission, an example of what humans working together could do.

"That last kiss goodbye", as project manager Earl Maize calls it, will push Cassini onto a path no spacecraft has gone before - into the gap between Saturn and its rings.

"If there are plumes on Europa, as we now strongly suspect, with the Europa Clipper we will be ready for them", said Jim Green, Director of Planetary Science, at NASA Headquarters. "I feel a little sad in many ways that Cassini's discoveries will end".

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The spacecraft will dive in between Saturn and its rings to study its composition before falling into planet's atmosphere.

Earth shines between Saturn's rings.

One reason scientists want to make sure Cassini is incinerated at the end of its journey is to ensure that any of its earthborn microbes do not contaminate the biotic or prebiotic worlds out there.

"The next time we go back. you're going to take something that not only picks up on the habitability story, but it starts looking for evidence for life". "The plumes on Enceladus are associated with hotter regions, so after Hubble imaged this new plume-like feature on Europa, we looked at that location on the Galileo thermal map".

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