NASA’s Saturn-orbiting spacecraft, Cassini called in after surviving it’s first major plunge in the gas filled planet’s rings. The robotic probe spacecraft has been orbiting the planet for 13 years and on 27th of April, 2017 it finally found a narrow gap between the planet and it’s closest ring.
Cassini came as close as 1900 miles from the top of Saturn’s topmost clouds and 200 miles from the innermost rings.
The spacecraft has about 21 close encounters remaining to learn about how Saturn’s rings were formed and what the planet comprises of.
It will conduct it’s final dive on Sept 15 when it will be destroyed by the planet’s high atmospheric pressure. The fatal dive is a conscious choice by the scientists because the spacecraft is out of fuel and after that it won’t be of any use.
Cassini was initially considered as an ambitious attempt by NASA and the ESA to learn about Saturn. Since it is a robotic mission, it costs much less than sending humans. The robots take a lot of money to design, develop and send, but the cost of training people is higher. Besides robots are capable of performing right risky tasks as well, and with perfection. Robots are believed to be the reason for the success of the Cassini.