Monday, April 21, 2008

Cassini Mission Extended to 2010

Some good science news reported last week via MSNBC, the Cassini Saturn mission has been extended for another two years. The mission has been a fount of information on the ringed planet, as well as gathered some extremely interesting data on its system of moons, notably Titan and Enceladus. Cassini was launched eleven years ago and has been orbiting Saturn since 2004.

""The spacecraft is performing exceptionally well and the team is highly motivated, so we're excited at the prospect of another two years," said Bob Mitchell, Cassini program manager at JPL.

If mission managers decide to extend Cassini's journey yet again in 2010, the craft should have enough propellant to handle a third mission phase.

Since arriving at Saturn, Cassini has beamed back nearly 140,000 images during 62 revolutions around the planet and more than 50 flybys of its moons."

An upcoming close encounter with Enceladus will take the probe a mere 15 miles from the tiny moon and it's spectacular system of geysers. Also on tap is closer examinations of the moons Rhea, Dione, and Helene.

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