Cassini discovers vast void between Saturn’s rings

Cassini discovers vast void between Saturn’s rings

NASA’s spacecraft Cassini has discovered a vast void between the rings of Saturn, American space agency researchers confirmed in a newly released statement.

Jim Green, the director of the Planetary Science Division at Washington-based NASA Headquarters, said that images captured by Cassini revealed that the area in between Saturn’s iconic rings is devoid of even space dust.

As the spacecraft dove through the gap, it came within 1,900 miles of the gaseous planet’s cloud tops and within 200 miles of the rings’ innermost visible edge.

While mission managers were confident Cassini would pass through the gap successfully, they took extra precautions with this first dive, as the region had never been explored.

Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize said, “No spacecraft has ever been this close to Saturn before. I am delighted to report that Cassini shot through the gap just as we planned and has come out the other side in excellent shape … The region between the rings and Saturn is 'the big empty,' apparently.”

The 22-foot-tall Cassini spacecraft, which was launched in 1997, is scheduled to make nearly two dozen dives between Saturn and its rings before making a death plunge into the gaseous world in September this year.

The NASA release informed...

Cassini made a first pass to explore what lies between the rings in late April and a second one on May 2, at a speed of about 77,000 miles per hour relative to the planet.

The gap between the rings and the top of Saturn's atmosphere is about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers).

Cassini is expected to make a total of 22 dives between the rings and the planet before making a death plunge into the gas giant in September.

Cassini is a 20-year-old joint mission of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.