38 years ago, exactly on this day the Pioneer 11 became the first ever spacecraft to enter the orbits of planet Saturn. And now Cassini, as part of the NASA’s flagship mission to the ringed planet, has entered into the last two weeks of its designated mission. Cassini’s penultimate timeline will start on September 12 with the famous “kiss good bye” where Titan will finally alter the trajectory of Cassini, and as a result, Cassini will get destroyed inside Saturn’s Atmosphere.
Cassini’s successful voyage around Saturn was possible due to the Pioneer 11 spacecraft, and all credit goes to its accurate information and brave journey across the ring planet. The Pioneer 11 was the successor to Pioneer 10 which was designed by NASA for its path finder mission to asteroid belt and Jupiter. Pioneer 11 proved to be very efficient, and unlike its sister, it went past Jupiter and became the first ever probe to enter the premises of Saturn.
The primary mission of Pioneer 11 was to investigate the environments and surroundings of the asteroid belt, Jupiter, and Saturn so that it could give a perfect route to the Voyager mission that was scheduled to be followed afterward. After efficiently providing exclusive details about Jupiter, the Pioneer 11 then successfully carried out its journey towards Saturn to map its magnetic field and characterize its direction, intensity and structure and many more things.
Pioneer 11 was launched in 1973, and it successfully entered inside Saturn’s ring on September 1, 1979, and successfully encountered the moons of Saturn. The details provided by Pioneer 11 about the ring plane environment of Saturn and its route helped Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 to enter the Saturn’s rings successfully.
Following the paths of Pioneer 11, the Cassini exceeded all expectations. The scientists and astronomers were able to get some unimaginable and unknown facts about the ring planet and also they got the knowledge that one of its moon called Enceladus has got all the ingredients that are required to support life. The Cassini first entered the orbit of Saturn on 30 June 2004, and now after 13 years, it is on the verge of completing its successful mission, and its final dip into Saturn’s Atmosphere is scheduled to occur on September 9.