With NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft entering its final dive into orbiting Saturn’s moon, Titan, Google has commemorated the event with a doodle on the occasion. Called ‘The Grand Finale’, the final phase will signify the 20-year journey of the spacecraft. But before its journey ends, the spacecraft has sent images of Saturn back to Earth.
Last Friday, Cassini made its 127th and final close approach to Titan. The spacecraft’s mission transmitted close-up images of Saturn’s rings and clouds to Earth. Google, to commemorate the event, has made a doodle showing an animated version of the Cassini Spacecraft clicking pictures of Saturn as it passes through its rings.
Cassini has stayed in space for 13-long years and its journey is expected to culminate on September 15 this year.
The spacecraft, which was launched in 1997 from Cape Canaveral in US, is now running out of rocket fuel; and according to NASA, “Cassini will leap over the planet’s icy rings and begin a series of 22 weekly dives between the planet and the rings” after a final close flyby of Titan.
The Cassini mission is a co-operative project of NASA, European Space Agency (ESA) and Italian space agency Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI). Over the years, 17 countries have participated in it.
Linda Spilker, Cassini’s project scientist, said that the images, which made up a “rich volume of data”, could be useful for scientific research later. She added that for now, the “final dive” would help people understand Saturn’s rings better. The Cassini mission has earlier provided data on another moon of Saturn, Enceladus.
NASA’s website which has been tracking Cassini provides details of several types of art inspired by the spacecraft. On its website, NASA also offers graphics and 360-degree videos about Cassini.