NASA's Cassini spacecraft flies between Saturn and its rings!

NASA's Cassini spacecraft flies between Saturn and its rings!

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency.

The robot spacecraft will now move into position to use Titan's gravity well as a form of space slingshot, to boost Cassini into a position for its final 22 orbital dives, one every week, through Saturn's rings, the first of which begins Wednesday. Cassini will use its dish-shaped high-gain antenna as a protective shield while passing through the ring plane. The spacecraft won't send word that it's okay until later today, and NASA won't get that message until 3AM ET tomorrow, April 27th.

Google Doodle celebrated the journey of the spacecraft that has stayed in the space for 13 long years and is now beginning the last leg of its exploration journey! Saturn gives Cassini a big grin as the vehicle passes by snapping pictures.

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The initial images from this first flyby between Saturn and its rings will start arriving no earlier than 12:30 a.m. PDT, April 27. Enceladus also might contain life in its underground oceans or the ice-encrusted surface. It's time spacecraft Cassini takes its final breaths, plunging itself into the atmosphere of Saturn with an astonishing speed of millions of miles per second. Cassini is performing its grand finale death dives and farewell flyby's because it is scheduled to plunge to its death on September 15.

After almost 20 years in space and 13 years in orbit around Saturn, NASA's Cassini spacecraft begins its grand finale, going where no craft has gone before.

They are believed to be pieces of comets, asteroids or shattered moons that broke up before they reached the planet.

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"Ultra-close" images of Saturn's rings and clouds will be available Thursday morning, according to NASA. It arrived at Saturn in 2004. This point, called apoapse, is where each new Cassini lap around Saturn begins.

As well as hopefully leading to new discoveries about the rings, the flyby should also give an insight into the interior of Saturn.

The spacecraft, launched from Cape Canaveral in The US in 1997, is now running out of its rocket fuel its mission and will conclude on September 15 this year. That information will help scientists better understand how the rings formed, which in turn can help them understand how all the planets formed from rings of material around the sun.

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