NASA is literally going to crash its Cassini spacecraft into Saturn, destroying it in an attempt to protect it from an alien invasion. Cassini’s fiery death will bring an end to the 13-year mission in mid-September and hopefully, prevent an alien takeover.
Cassini has been probing Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun, and its entourage of 62 known moons since July 2004. It has provided enough data for almost 4,000 scientific papers. On its final day, the Cassini spacecraft will make the last of 22 farewell dives that will take it between the planet’s spectacular rings and its surface. Then it will head towards its atmosphere, plunging down into and burning up as it does so. But the spacecraft will also be sending data back to earth right until the very end before it crashes. This will be providing scientists with the best look they’ve ever had until now of the mysterious and captivating planet, Saturn.
Cassini’s mission has been dubbed successful by scientists because it has shown them much more than they anticipated about our own solar system. It has found that there are seasons on Saturn, that the moon Titan looks like the early Earth, and even that another one of Saturn’s moons Enceladus could support life. But according to scientists, it has shown them so much more. (Below: Saturn’s moon, Enceladus)
“The mission has been insanely, wildly, beautifully successful, and it’s coming to an end in about two weeks,” Curt Niebur, Cassini program scientist, said on a telephone conference call with reporters from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. Project scientist Linda Spilker said that Cassini’s latest data on the rings had shown they had a lighter mass than forecast. That suggests they are also younger than scientists expected, at about 120 million years, and thus were created after the birth of the solar system, she said.
During its final orbits between the atmosphere and the rings, Cassini also studied Saturn’s atmosphere and took measurements to determine the size of the planet’s rocky core. And now, its mission is almost over. Since the craft is running low on fuel, NASA is crashing it into Saturn to avoid any chance Cassini could someday collide with Titan, Enceladus or any other moon that has the potential to support indigenous microbial life.
By destroying the spacecraft, NASA will ensure that any remaining Earth microbes still alive on Cassini will not contaminate any of Saturn’s moons for future study, preventing an alien invasion on the m0ons.
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Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.