Cassini makes its 'goodbye kiss' flyby of Titan

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On Friday, the 15 September, Cassini will send itself into Saturn, nearly 20 years since it left Earth.

Nasa's robotic spacecraft Cassini that has been orbiting Saturn for 13 years is set for a final dive towards the planet and burn up in its atmosphere in a "grand finale" after it flies past Titan, Saturn's largest moon, on September 15.

The spacecraft made its closest approach to Titan today at 12:04 p.m. PDT (3:04 p.m. EDT), at an altitude of 73,974 miles (119,049 kilometers) above the moon's surface.

NASA chose to safely dispose of the spacecraft in the atmosphere of Saturn, in order to avoid the unlikely possibility of Cassini someday colliding with one of Saturn's moons, the statement said.

Linda Spilker, a Cassini project scientist of Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA said about the hurricanes happening on the poles of the Saturn, that "These hurricanes are large enough they'd cover about half the continental United States, about 50 times larger than a typical Earth hurricane".

"This final encounter is something of a bittersweet goodbye, but as it has done throughout the mission, Titan's gravity is once again sending Cassini where we need it to go", he said.

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Cassini's last close flyby of Titan on April 21 curved the spacecraft's orbit to send it on a series of dives between Saturn and its rings. The moon is the only body to undergo a cycle similar to the water cycle on Earth, except on the extremely cold Titan it rains methane from hydrocarbon clouds. They have been there prior to the advent of Cassini in 2004. Though Cassini has revealed many things there are certain facts about that planet that still remain a mystery.

Also, there is an interesting story behind end of the Cassini mission.

The rings of Saturn are embedded with billions of water-ice particles ranging in size from grains of sand to monstrous chunks.

In its final few moments, Cassini will continue to gather new information on Saturn as it passes by the planet's iconic rings - giving us a closer glimpse than ever before.

The spacecraft is scheduled to make contact with Earth on September 12 at about 9:19 p.m. EDT.

Cassini will have been destroyed for about 83 minutes before its final signal reaches NASA's Deep Space Network's Canberra station in Australia.