NASA's Cassini makes final flyby of Saturn's giant moon

NASA's Cassini makes final flyby of Saturn's giant moon

NASA's Cassini makes final flyby of Saturn's giant moon

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured a spectacular photo of a perplexing wave structure in one of Saturn's rings as the probe heads into its final days at the gas giant. The Saturn system has been Cassini's home for 13 years, but its journey will end on 15 September.

Cassini zoomed within 73,974 miles (119,049 kilometers) of Titan Monday (Sept. 11) in a flyby created to lower the probe's orbit enough to ensure that it will crash into Saturn's thick atmosphere as planned on Friday, NASA officials said.

In fact, one of Cassini's biggest revelations includes unveiling Enceladus - Saturn's icy moon - and the fact that it has numerous ingredients needed for life.

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"Cassini has been in a long-term relationship with Titan, with a new rendezvous almost every month for more than a decade", Cassini project manager Earl Maize, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.

"This final encounter is something of a bittersweet goodbye, but as it has done throughout the mission, Titan's gravity is once again sending Cassini where we need it to go", he said.

Cassini's revelations about Titan have been some of the most significant discoveries in the entire mission. Though Cassini has revealed many things there are certain facts about that planet that still remain a mystery.

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The new image from Cassini captures an up-close view of a spiral density wave visible in Saturn's B ring.

The destruction of the ship in Saturn's atmosphere is to prevent it from crashing into - and contaminating - one of the planet's moons.

Cassini will collect vital data that was too risky to obtain earlier in the mission including detailed maps of Saturn's gravity and magnetic fields and extreme close-ups of Saturn's rings and clouds. This is expected to take place at 7:54 a.m. EDT (12:44 p.m. BST).

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The Cassini-Huygens mission is a joint endeavour between NASA, and the European and Italian space agencies.

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