Cassini: The Grand Finale Begins

May 11 & 12

NASA's flagship outer planets mission, Cassini, enters the final phase of its historic mission of exploration and discovery in April 2017. The spacecraft will plunge 22 times through the narrow gap between Saturn and its innermost rings - a completely unexplored region around Saturn. During this final chapter of the mission, Cassini will get closer to the planet than ever before, providing new insights about Saturn's interior, and possibly revealing previously hidden details about the nature of Saturn's magnetic field. Cassini scientists hope the spacecraft will be able to directly sample particles from the innermost rings and gases from the upper atmosphere, and the views will be like nothing ever seen before.

Cassini's project manager and project scientist, who last presented a preview of these activities in Sept. 2016, will once again share the excitement of the mission in the von Karman lecture. Maize and Spilker will review images and activities from the "Ring-Grazing Orbits," the November-to-April mission phase that led up to the Grand Finale, and describe the thrill of the recently completed first plunge through the ring-planet gap on April 26.

The talk will also preview the coming end of mission, a final plunge into Saturn's atmosphere, on Sept. 15.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative undertaking by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian space agency (ASI). For more details about Cassini and its Grand Finale, visit the mission website:

Dr. Earl Maize, Cassini Project Manager, JPL
Dr. Linda Spilker, Cassini Project Scientist, JPL

Thursday, May 11, 2017, 7pm
The von Kármán Auditorium at JPL
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA
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Friday, May 12, 2017, 7pm
The Vosloh Forum at Pasadena City College
1570 East Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA
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Click here to watch the event live on Ustream