Abstract Submission CLOSED

For NYSS APS information, contact:
Dr. Erica Simoson 

"Cassini’s Grand Finale"

Philip Nicholson, Astronomy Department, Cornell University, Ithaca NY

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft was in orbit around Saturn from July 2004, having been launched in October 1997. During this time, it completed over 290 orbits around the ringed planet and returned hundred of thousands of images and spectra, as well as data on the planet’s magnetic field, its plasma and dust environment, and on its retinue of satellites. The latter include Titan, the only satellite known to have an atmosphere and lakes on its surface, and Enceladus with its active plumes of water vapor and ice particles. On September 15 of this year, having exhausted its fuel for orbital trim maneuvers, Cassini completed its mission with a final plunge into the planet’s atmosphere. I will summarize what went into the planning of this final phase of the mission and some of the unique science that was accomplished during this period. This includes the highest-resolution images and spectra ever obtained of the rings and small satellites as well as in situ sampling of the ring environment and the planet’s upper atmosphere.

For program, contact:  
Dr. Heather Watson – watsonh@union.edu
Dr. Nelia Mann – mannn@union.edu
Dr. Samuel Amanuel – amanuels@union.edu
Ms. Lynnette Stec – stecl@union.edu
Phone: 518-388-6254
Fax: 518-388-6947
Department of Physics & Astronomy, Union College, Schenectady, NY 12308