The ‘ball of yarn’ – traces from 294 or­bits in the Sat­urn sys­tem

The ‘ball of yarn’ – traces from 294 or­bits in the Sat­urn sys­tem
Credit: NASA.

The ‘ball of yarn’ – traces from 294 orbits in the Saturn system

Be­tween 2004 and 2017, the Cassi­ni space­craft or­bit­ed the Sat­urn sys­tem 294 times at dif­fer­ent dis­tances and in­cli­na­tions (an­gle with re­spect to the plane of the rings or Sat­urn's equa­tor). The mis­sion con­sist­ed of three phas­es: the pri­ma­ry mis­sion phase, the ‘Equinox Phase’ and the ‘Sol­stice phase’. Cassi­ni's ‘Grand Fi­nale’ was ini­ti­at­ed in April 2017 as the end of the mis­sion drew near­er, which will be com­plet­ed by a spec­tac­u­lar dive in­to the plan­et's at­mo­sphere. The grav­i­ta­tion­al pull of Sat­urn's largest moon Ti­tan was used to aid with or­bital cor­rec­tions for Cassi­ni's fi­nal dives.

Between 2004 and 2017, the Cassini spacecraft orbited the Saturn system 294 times at different distances and inclinations (angle with respect to the plane of the rings or Saturn's equator). The mission consisted of three phases: the primary mission phase, the ‘Equinox Phase’ and the ‘Solstice phase’. Cassini's ‘Grand Finale’ was initiated in April 2017 as the end of the mission drew nearer, which will be completed by a spectacular dive into the planet's atmosphere. The gravitational pull of Saturn's largest moon Titan was used to aid with orbital corrections for Cassini's final dives.

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