It has just been confirmed that NASA’s Cassini has emerged successfully after its first device between Saturn’s rings yesterday, news that comes after the Cassini team spent 20 hours without the knowledge of whether the spacecraft had survived, or if it had hit the planet early.
But after those long 20 hours, it did get back in contact with NASA earlier today (April 27th) at 2:56AM EDT to report its survival as well as begin the process of sending back the data that it had collected.
And of course, there were some photos too, which you can see above.
The project manger of the Cassini project, Earl Maize said the following about the news:
“No spacecraft has ever been this close to Saturn before. We could only rely on predictions, based on our experience with Saturn’s other rings, of what we thought this gap between the rings and Saturn would be like. I am delighted to report that Cassini shot through the gap just as we planned and has come out the other side in excellent shape.”
NASA also detailed the reason for the outage, stating that because Cassini was traveling at speeds of up to 77,000 mph, the Cassini team decided to use it’s antenna as a shield to protect the craft, meaning that they had to turn it away from Earth in order to do that, and thus they couldn’t send out any data until it was out of the gap and pointing at Earth once again.
We did it! Cassini is in contact with Earth and sending back data after a successful dive through the gap between Saturn and its rings. pic.twitter.com/cej1yO7T6a
— CassiniSaturn (@CassiniSaturn) April 27, 2017
This is huge news as this is the first time that humans have sent a spacecraft this close the Saturn, providing us with the chance to explore depths of the universe that seemed unexplorable just a few years ago.
Sadly, this will be the last mission for Cassini as after it has completed its set of 21 dives towards Saturn, it will make a final plunge into the planet, thankfully, it will be sending data like what we received today in the process.