NASA will hold a news conference at noon PDT (3 p.m. EDT) Tuesday, April 4, at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to preview the beginning of Cassini’s final mission segment, known as the Grand Finale, which begins in late April. The briefing will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Cassini has been orbiting Saturn since June 2004, studying the planet, its rings and its moons. A final close flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan on April 22 will reshape the Cassini spacecraft’s orbit so that it begins its final series of 22 weekly dives through the unexplored gap between the planet and its rings. The first of these dives is planned for April 26. Following these closer-than-ever encounters with the giant planet, Cassini will make a mission-ending plunge into Saturn’s upper atmosphere on Sept. 15.
The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter.