Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Schools : Science : Cassini The Grand Finale + Resources





This artist's rendering shows NASA's Cassini spacecraft above Saturn's northern hemisphere, heading toward its first dive between Saturn and its rings on April 26, 2017
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech
https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/

After almost 20 years in space, NASA's Cassini spacecraft begins the final chapter of its remarkable story of exploration: its Grand Finale.

Cassini launched in October 1997 and arrived at Saturn in July 2004. The end of mission is set for September 15, 2017.
Between April and September 2017, Cassini will undertake a daring set of orbits that is, in many ways, like a whole new mission. 
Following a final close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan, Cassini will leap over the planet's icy rings and begin a series of 22 weekly dives between the planet and the rings.


Cassini will end its mission with 22 daring loops passing through the gap between Saturn and its rings
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Erick Sturm
http://www.esa.int/
No other mission has ever explored this unique region. What we learn from these final orbits will help to improve our understanding of how giant planets – and planetary systems everywhere – form and evolve.

It's always sad when a mission comes to an end. Cassini's finale plunge is a truly spectacular end for one of the most scientifically rich voyages yet undertaken in our solar system. 

From its launch in 1997 to the unique Grand Finale science of 2017, the Cassini-Huygens mission has racked up a remarkable list of achievements. 





Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute


On 22 April, Cassini successfully executed its 127th and final close flyby of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

The image presented here is a raw image sent back to Earth yesterday, taken on Saturday at 18:42 GMT. It is one of many that can be found in the Cassini raw image archive.

The manoeuvre put the spacecraft onto its ’grand finale’ trajectory: a series of 22 orbits, each lasting about a week, drawing closer to Saturn and passing between the planet's innermost rings and its outer atmosphere. The first crossing of the ring plane will occur on 26 April.





credits: NASA

The Cassini spacecraft was launched by NASA on October 15, 1997. It reached Saturn's orbit in July, 2004 and has been studying the planet and its moons ever since.
The fly through Saturn's rings is part of the last phase of Cassini's mission. Dwindling fuel reserves mean NASA will crash the craft into the planet - rather than risking any biological contamination of Saturn's moons by depositing it there.
Diving between Saturn's rings will start today, April 26 and the little spaceship will be taking pictures of whatever it can as it passes through the giant sheets of icy debris.




Google Doodle: Cassini Spacecraft Dives Between Saturn & its Rings


This dramatic manoeuvre has inspired a Google Doodle that will run on the world's most famous homepage on April 26, 2017.

The importance of Cassini in Science:
As Cassini plunges past Saturn, the spacecraft will collect some incredibly rich and valuable information that was too risky to obtain earlier in the mission:
  • The spacecraft will make detailed maps of Saturn's gravity and magnetic fields, revealing how the planet is arranged internally, and possibly helping to solve the irksome mystery of just how fast Saturn is rotating.
  • The final dives will vastly improve our knowledge of how much material is in the rings, bringing us closer to understanding their origins.
  • Cassini's particle detectors will sample icy ring particles being funneled into the atmosphere by Saturn's magnetic field.
  • Its cameras will take amazing, ultra-close images of Saturn's rings and clouds.



Artist's concept of Cassini diving between Saturn and its innermost ring
NASA/JPL-Caltech


Why End the Mission?
By 2017, Cassini will have spent 13 years in orbit around Saturn, following a seven-year journey from Earth. The spacecraft is running low on the rocket fuel used for adjusting its course. If left unchecked, this situation would eventually prevent mission operators from controlling the course of the spacecraft.
Two moons of Saturn, Enceladus and Titan, have captured news headlines over the past decade as Cassini data revealed their potential to contain habitable – or at least "prebiotic” – environments.
In order to avoid the unlikely possibility of Cassini someday colliding with one of these moons, NASA has chosen to safely dispose of the spacecraft in the atmosphere of Saturn. This will ensure that Cassini cannot contaminate any future studies of habitability and potential life on those moons.



Cassini by numbers
credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech



Education:

Since some of the last years we had the possibility to follow Cassini and its exploration.

The end is coming. And what a great event to follow with your students! Wow! And this time, students are all at school. No excuses. Propose your students this fantastic scientific event.

Most of us are excited about Cassini the Grand FinaleOf course, teachers and students, specially if you teach sciences and your students learn sciences, you will be even more excited

My usual readers know I don't teach sciences. I'm a Humanities specialistBut I'm a huge fan of science. Astronomy is my passion. Follow all these fantastic events that Jules Verne predicted in his books is amazing.





Graphics

credit: NASA
https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/

So don't miss this good live educational resource in the sky to enhance your Sciences lesson! Cassino Grand Finale

Students can access online to the the spacecraft Cassini and explore in detail all the resources made available by NASA.

You have a perfect and so complete real resource to include into your curriculum, in different moments.





Resources for students & teachers:

What we learn from these ultra-close passes over the planet could be some of the most exciting revelations ever returned by the long-lived spacecraft. 


This animated video tells the story of Cassini's final, daring assignment and looks back at what the mission has accomplished.
Join the Cassini orbiter in real time - or at any point during its epic mission. NASA's Eyes on the Solar System is a 3-D environment full of real NASA mission data. Explore the Saturnian system from your computer. Hop on a moon. Fly with Cassini. See the entire solar system moving in real time. It's up to you. You control space and time.





Cassini’s First Grand Finale Dive: Milestones


Where is Cassini now?
Students van follow Cassini here
Facts sheet: Cassini's Grand Finale
Graphics: Orbit Plot: Cassini Grand Finale (Artist's Concept)




Giovanni Domenico Cassini 
Italian mathematician & astronomer
Who was Giovanni Domenico Cassini?

Giovanni Domenico Cassini was an Italian mathematician and astronomer born in 1625.
He was the first person to notice the division of the rings of Saturn in 1675 and now, over 300 years later, a space probe bearing his name is orbiting the planet .

The Cassini spacecraft, launched in 1997, was named after him and became the fourth to visit Saturn and the first to orbit the planet.
Social media:

Facebook : NASACassini

Twitter: @CassiniSaturn

Google + : NASA


Hope you are enjoying Cassini the Grand Finale as much as I do. Admiring the beauty of this awesome event. 

G-Souto

26.04.2017
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Creative Commons License
Schools : Science : The Cassini Grand Finale + resources  by G-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Source: NASA/Cassini The Grand Finale

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