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News Article | May 10, 2017
Site: www.cnet.com

The Cassinis spacecraft's farewell tour of Saturn may be focused on the strangely empty space between the planet and its rings, but it's still taking time to do some local sightseeing. Cassini snapped this image of Saturn's largest moon Titan on May 7 from a distance of 303,000 miles (488,000 kilometers) away. The bright streaks are methane clouds, while the darker splotches seen toward the top are the moon's fascinating hydrocarbon lakes. NASA released two versions of the image on Tuesday with different levels of enhancement. One makes the bands and seas really pop out, while the other offers a softer, more ethereal view of the same scene. The Cassini mission, which launched in 1997, is scheduled to end in September when the spacecraft will destroy itself in Saturn's atmosphere. Cassini is a joint project from NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The probe is currently engaged in an ongoing series of dives that take it between Saturn and the rings as part of its mission "grand finale."


News Article | May 25, 2017
Site: www.cnet.com

Saturn has pulled off an even more extreme color-changing trick than Starbucks managed with its Unicorn Frappuccino. NASA released a set of images on Wednesday showing how the planet's north polar region shifted from light blue colors in June 2013 to yellow hues by April 2017. The hexagonal jet stream system is one of Saturn's most distinctive features (along with its trademark rings). NASA's Cassini spacecraft snapped these views, which NASA presents side-by-side in natural color to show how much Saturn has changed its decor over the years. NASA believes the yellowish haze comes from smog particles caused by an increase in solar radiation. Saturn's northern summer solstice arrived on Wednesday, an event that happens roughly every 15 Earth years. Despite the dramatic color differences across most of the region, the central polar vortex remains blue. Scientists think this quirk could be due to a lack of sunlight reaching that specific area. "A second explanation hypothesizes that the polar vortex may have an internal circulation similar to hurricanes on Earth," NASA says. If that's true, any smog particles may be forced downward and out of sight. Cassini is currently engaged in a "Grand Finale" tour of Saturn, where it's flying close to the planet by squeaking past its rings. The spacecraft, a joint project from NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency, is scheduled to destroy itself by diving in Saturn's atmosphere in September. CNET en Español: Get all your tech news and reviews in Spanish. Does the Mac still matter? Apple execs tell why the MacBook Pro was over four years in the making, and why we should care.


News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

The Cassini spacecraft made its final flyby of Saturn’s largest moon Titan in the early hours of Saturday, and images it captured of the stellar body were released Monday by NASA and the European Space Agency. The spacecraft, which has been studying the Saturn system since 2004, will start its Grand Finale mission Wednesday and end it by plunging into the planet’s atmosphere Sept. 15. The last close flyby of Titan happened at 2:08 a.m. EDT Saturday, when Cassini was 979 kilometers (608 miles) above the moon’s surface. Among the data it transmitted to Earth over the last few days are radar images of the hydrocarbon seas and lakes covering the planet-sized moon’s north polar region. “Cassini’s up-close exploration of Titan is now behind us, but the rich volume of data the spacecraft has collected will fuel scientific study for decades to come,” Linda Spilker, the mission’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement Monday. Using Titan’s gravity as a slingshot, Cassini is now moving into position for its last mission, the Grand Finale, during which it will make 22 dives — one each week — through the rings of Saturn, as well as the gas giant’s inner rings and its atmosphere. The first of these dives takes place Wednesday. Before the mission finally comes to an end, Cassini will make a last, distant flyby of Titan on Sept. 11, a maneuver that will ensure the spacecraft doesn’t crash into Enceladus, an ocean-moon of Saturn that is potentially habitable. Another image released Monday by NASA shows a massive canyon on Tethys, another of Saturn’s 63 known moons. The Ithaca Chasm is up to 60 miles wide and about 660 miles long, which is almost three-fourths of the icy moon’s surface. The maximum depth of the rift is about 2.4 miles, according to a statement that accompanied the image. Cassini is a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The European Geosciences Union will hold a press conference at 1:30 p.m. GMT (9:30 a.m. EDT) Tuesday to preview the Grand Finale and to talk about some of Cassini’s many achievements over the past 13 years. The press conference, being held in Vienna, can be watched live here.


News Article | April 27, 2017
Site: www.cnet.com

The Saturn-studying Cassini spacecraft triumphed through its first daring dive between the planet and its famous rings on Wednesday. The craft shot through the narrow gap and came within 1,900 miles (3,000 kilometers) of Saturn's clouds. "No spacecraft has ever been this close to Saturn before," Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA said. "We could only rely on predictions, based on our experience with Saturn's other rings, of what we thought this gap between the rings and Saturn would be like." Maize added that Cassini came through "in excellent shape." On Thursday, NASA released several unprocessed images captured during the flight, which give us our closest-ever view of Saturn's atmosphere. NASA had been confident Cassini would make it through the first historic dive but took the precaution of aiming the spacecraft's dish-like high-gain antenna to act as a shield against ring particles. This also created a situation in which Cassini was out of contact with mission control for a while. Cassini is scheduled to conduct a total of 22 close flybys for its "grand finale." The next will occur on May 2. The spacecraft will ultimately dive to its doom in Saturn's atmosphere in September. The mission, which launched in 1997, is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. Batteries Not Included: The CNET team reminds us why tech is cool. CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET's newsstand edition.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

CLEMSON, South Carolina -- When the universe was young, a supermassive black hole -- bloated to the bursting point with stupendous power -- heaved out a jet of particle-infused energy that raced through the vastness of space at nearly the speed of light. Billions of years later, a trio of Clemson University scientists, led by College of Science astrophysicist Marco Ajello, has identified this black hole and four others similar to it that range in age from 1.4 billion to 1.9 billion years old. These objects emit copious gamma rays, light of the highest energy, that are billions of times more energetic than light that is visible to the human eye. The previously known earliest gamma-ray blazars -- a type of galaxy whose intense emission is powered by extremely powerful relativistic jets launched by monstrous black holes -- were more than 2 billion years old. Currently, the universe is estimated to be approximately 14 billion years old. "The discovery of these supermassive black holes, which launch jets that emit more energy in one second than our sun will produce in its entire lifetime, was the culmination of a yearlong research project," said Ajello, who has spent much of his career studying the evolution of distant galaxies. "Our next step is to increase our understanding of the mechanisms involved in the formation, development and activities of these amazing objects, which are the most powerful accelerators in the universe. We can't even come close to replicating such massive outputs of energy in our laboratories. The complexities we're attempting to unravel seem almost as mysterious as the black holes themselves." Ajello conducted his research in conjunction with Clemson post-doc Vaidehi Paliya and Ph.D candidate Lea Marcotulli. The trio worked closely with the Fermi-Large Area Telescope collaboration, which is an international team of scientists that includes Roopesh Ojha, an astronomer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; and Dario Gasparrini of the Italian Space Agency. Their scientific paper titled "Gamma-Ray Blazars Within the First 2 Billion Years" was published Monday in a journal called Astrophysical Journal Letters. (Ackermann, M., et al. 2017, ApJL, 837, L5.) The Clemson team's breakthroughs were made possible by recently juiced-up software on NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Telescope. The refurbished software significantly boosted the orbiting telescope's sensitivity to a level that made these latest discoveries possible. "People are calling it the cheapest refurbishment in history," Ajello said. "Normally, for the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA had to send someone up to space to physically make these kinds of improvements. But in this case, they were able to do it remotely from an Earth-bound location. And of equal importance, the improvements were retroactive, which meant that the previous six years of data were also entirely reprocessed. This helped provide us with the information we needed to complete the first step of our research and also to strive onward in the learning process." Using Fermi data, Ajello and Paliya began with a catalog of 1.4 million quasars, which are galaxies that harbor at their centers active supermassive black holes. Over the course of a year, they narrowed their search to 1,100 objects. Of these, five were finally determined to be newly discovered gamma-ray blazars that were the farthest away - and youngest - ever identified. "After using our filters and other devices, we were left with about 1,100 sources. And then we did the diagnostics for all of these and were able to narrow them down to 25 to 30 sources," Paliya said. "But we still had to confirm that what we had detected was scientifically authentic. So we performed a number of other simulations and were able to derive properties such as black hole mass and jet power. Ultimately, we confirmed that these five sources were guaranteed to be gamma-ray blazars, with the farthest one being about 1.4 billion years old from the beginning of time." Marcotulli, who joined Ajello's group as a Ph.D student in 2016, has been studying the blazars' mechanisms by using images and data delivered from another orbiting NASA telescope, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR). At first, Marcotulli's role was to understand the emission mechanism of gamma-ray blazars closer to us. Now she is turning her attention toward the most distant objects in a quest to understand what makes them so powerful. "We're trying to understand the full spectrum of the energy distribution of these objects by using physical models," Marcotulli said. "We are currently able to model what's happening far more accurately than previously devised, and eventually we'll be able to better understand what processes are occurring in the jets and which particles are radiating all the energy that we see. Are they electrons? Or protons? How are they interacting with surrounding photons? All these parameters are not fully understood right now. But every day we are deepening our understanding." All galaxies have black holes at their centers - some actively feeding on the matter surrounding them, others lying relatively dormant. Our own galaxy has at its center a super-sized black hole that is currently dormant. Ajello said that only one of every 10 black holes in today's universe are active. But when the universe was much younger, it was closer to a 50-50 ratio. The supermassive black holes at the center of the five newly discovered blazar galaxies are among the largest types of black holes ever observed, on the order of hundreds of thousands to billions of times the mass of our own sun. And their accompanying accretion disks - rotating swirls of matter that orbit the black holes - emit more than two trillion times the energy output of our sun. One of the most surprising elements of Ajello's research is how quickly - by cosmic measures - these supersized black holes must have grown in only 1.4 billion years. In terms of our current knowledge of how black holes grow, 1.4 billion years is barely enough time for a black hole to reach the mass of the ones discovered by Ajello's team. "How did these incomprehensibly enormous and energy-laden black holes form so quickly?" Ajello said. "Is it because one black hole ate a lot all the time for a very long time? Or maybe because it bumped into other black holes and merged into one? To be honest, we have no observations supporting either argument. There are mechanisms at work that we have yet to unravel. Puzzles that we have yet to solve. When we do eventually solve them, we will learn amazing things about how the universe was born, how it grew into what it has become, and what the distant future might hold as the universe continues to progress toward old age."


Billions of years later, a trio of Clemson University scientists, led by College of Science astrophysicist Marco Ajello, has identified this black hole and four others similar to it that range in age from 1.4 billion to 1.9 billion years old. These objects emit copious gamma rays, light of the highest energy, that are billions of times more energetic than light that is visible to the human eye. The previously known earliest gamma-ray blazars—a type of galaxy whose intense emission is powered by extremely powerful relativistic jets launched by monstrous black holes—were more than 2 billion years old. Currently, the universe is estimated to be approximately 14 billion years old. "The discovery of these supermassive black holes, which launch jets that emit more energy in one second than our sun will produce in its entire lifetime, was the culmination of a yearlong research project," said Ajello, who has spent much of his career studying the evolution of distant galaxies. "Our next step is to increase our understanding of the mechanisms involved in the formation, development and activities of these amazing objects, which are the most powerful accelerators in the universe. We can't even come close to replicating such massive outputs of energy in our laboratories. The complexities we're attempting to unravel seem almost as mysterious as the black holes themselves." Ajello conducted his research in conjunction with Clemson post-doc Vaidehi Paliya and Ph.D candidate Lea Marcotulli. The trio worked closely with the Fermi-Large Area Telescope collaboration, which is an international team of scientists that includes Roopesh Ojha, an astronomer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; and Dario Gasparrini of the Italian Space Agency. Their scientific paper titled "Gamma-Ray Blazars Within the First 2 Billion Years" was published Monday in a journal called Astrophysical Journal Letters. (Ackermann, M., et al. 2017, ApJL, 837, L5.) The Clemson team's breakthroughs were made possible by recently juiced-up software on NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Telescope. The refurbished software significantly boosted the orbiting telescope's sensitivity to a level that made these latest discoveries possible. "People are calling it the cheapest refurbishment in history," Ajello said. "Normally, for the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA had to send someone up to space to physically make these kinds of improvements. But in this case, they were able to do it remotely from an Earth-bound location. And of equal importance, the improvements were retroactive, which meant that the previous six years of data were also entirely reprocessed. This helped provide us with the information we needed to complete the first step of our research and also to strive onward in the learning process." Using Fermi data, Ajello and Paliya began with a catalog of 1.4 million quasars, which are galaxies that harbor at their centers active supermassive black holes. Over the course of a year, they narrowed their search to 1,100 objects. Of these, five were finally determined to be newly discovered gamma-ray blazars that were the farthest away - and youngest - ever identified. "After using our filters and other devices, we were left with about 1,100 sources. And then we did the diagnostics for all of these and were able to narrow them down to 25 to 30 sources," Paliya said. "But we still had to confirm that what we had detected was scientifically authentic. So we performed a number of other simulations and were able to derive properties such as black hole mass and jet power. Ultimately, we confirmed that these five sources were guaranteed to be gamma-ray blazars, with the farthest one being about 1.4 billion years old from the beginning of time." Marcotulli, who joined Ajello's group as a Ph.D student in 2016, has been studying the blazars' mechanisms by using images and data delivered from another orbiting NASA telescope, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR). At first, Marcotulli's role was to understand the emission mechanism of gamma-ray blazars closer to us. Now she is turning her attention toward the most distant objects in a quest to understand what makes them so powerful. "We're trying to understand the full spectrum of the energy distribution of these objects by using physical models," Marcotulli said. "We are currently able to model what's happening far more accurately than previously devised, and eventually we'll be able to better understand what processes are occurring in the jets and which particles are radiating all the energy that we see. Are they electrons? Or protons? How are they interacting with surrounding photons? All these parameters are not fully understood right now. But every day we are deepening our understanding." All galaxies have black holes at their centers - some actively feeding on the matter surrounding them, others lying relatively dormant. Our own galaxy has at its center a super-sized black hole that is currently dormant. Ajello said that only one of every 10 black holes in today's universe are active. But when the universe was much younger, it was closer to a 50-50 ratio. The supermassive black holes at the center of the five newly discovered blazar galaxies are among the largest types of black holes ever observed, on the order of hundreds of thousands to billions of times the mass of our own sun. And their accompanying accretion disks - rotating swirls of matter that orbit the black holes - emit more than two trillion times the energy output of our sun. One of the most surprising elements of Ajello's research is how quickly - by cosmic measures - these supersized black holes must have grown in only 1.4 billion years. In terms of our current knowledge of how black holes grow, 1.4 billion years is barely enough time for a black hole to reach the mass of the ones discovered by Ajello's team. "How did these incomprehensibly enormous and energy-laden black holes form so quickly?" Ajello said. "Is it because one black hole ate a lot all the time for a very long time? Or maybe because it bumped into other black holes and merged into one? To be honest, we have no observations supporting either argument. There are mechanisms at work that we have yet to unravel. Puzzles that we have yet to solve. When we do eventually solve them, we will learn amazing things about how the universe was born, how it grew into what it has become, and what the distant future might hold as the universe continues to progress toward old age." Explore further: Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope discovers the most extreme blazars yet More information: M. Ackermann et al, Gamma-Ray Blazars within the First 2 Billion Years, The Astrophysical Journal (2017). DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa5fff


NASA's Cassini spacecraft probing Saturn's systems has sent dazzling images of the planet's icy rings with new details that were totally unseen before. The images have amazingly captured the ring's exterior up close with higher prominence to features like straws and propellers. Though Cassini had taken images of these features in the past as well, the current ring grazing phase of the spacecraft has added a new dimension to the details. Cassini is now half way in its mission of 20 orbits in the penultimate mission at the tether edge of the main rings which it has been gazing since November. Until late April, the ring encounter will go on before it starts the "end game" to vanish. The grand details of the rings showed up the fascinating features of the rings wherein "straw" with its clumped-up ring particles and "propellers" are readily impressing. The latter is formed by the embedding of tiny moonlets. Propeller takes its name for looking like a propeller. It may be known that some of the Saturnian moons have considerable influence in determining the shape of the planet's rings. "As the person who planned those initial orbit-insertion ring images, I am taken aback by how vastly improved are the details in this new collection," said Carolyn Porco, who is the Cassini Imaging Team Lead and is attached to Colorado's Space Science Institute in Boulder. The images indicate how the rings might be housing millions of orbiting "moonlets." On a scale of 550 meters, the images carry unseen features such as double-armed "propellers" pointing to a constellation of tiny moons hiding within the planetary rings. In terms of makeup, the Saturnian rings are made of ice, dust, and rocks. Propellers are also deemed as gaps in the ring material stretching thousands of miles created by moonlets. There are also grainy structures showing up in the individual rings, which are straws in which materials are transiently clumped for which astronomers are searching for answers. One reason highlighted for the high-quality images with more details is Cassini aiming both the sunlit as well backlit part of the rings. In the past, Cassini's brief passes that lasted a few hours had returned images that were less conspicuous in details. Now, Cassini is in the final months and making one fulsome weekly pass near the rings. Matthew Tiscareno, a Cassini scientist noted the close views will open up more on the knowledge about Saturn's rings and exciting data will be coming in months as cameras will trail other parts of the rings closer to the planet. The images have reinforced the impression that Cassini, at the fag end of the mission that started in 2004, has been very successful. It has many discoveries to take credit of, prime among them are a global ocean of suspected hydrothermal activity in Enceladus and a liquid methane sea in Titan. Cassini was conceived as a collaborative project of NASA, the Italian Space Agency and European Space Agency. By September end, Cassini will wrap up its mission by plunging into Saturn's atmosphere for which the first "finale plunge" will begin on April 26. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | February 28, 2017
Site: www.rdmag.com

Researchers have recently discovered a group of five black holes believed to be some of the youngest and most powerful ever identified. A group of Clemson University scientists have identified a black hole and four others similar to it that range from 1.4 billion and 1.9 billion years old that emit copious gamma rays—light of the highest energy—that are billions of times more energetic than light that is visible to the human eye. Previously the earliest gamma-ray blazars—a type of galaxy whose intense emission is powered by extremely powerful relativistic jets launched by monstrous black holes—were more than 2 billion years old. Marco Ajello, an astrophysicist at the Clemson University College of Science, explained the discovery. “The discovery of these supermassive black holes, which launch jets that emit more energy in one second than our sun will produce in its entire lifetime, was the culmination of a yearlong research project,” Ajello said in a statement. “Our next step is to increase our understanding of the mechanisms involved in the formation, development and activities of these amazing objects, which are the most powerful accelerators in the universe. “We can't even come close to replicating such massive outputs of energy in our laboratories,” he added. “The complexities we're attempting to unravel seem almost as mysterious as the black holes themselves.” Ajello, working with Clemson post-doc Vaidehi Paliya and Ph.D. candidate Lea Marcotulli, worked closely with the Fermi-Large Area Telescope collaboration, an international team of scientists that includes Roopesh Ojha, an astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Dario Gasparrini, of the Italian Space Agency. The team used refurbished software to significantly boost the orbiting telescope’s sensitivity to a level that made these latest discoveries possible. “People are calling it the cheapest refurbishment in history,” Ajello said. “Normally, for the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA had to send someone up to space to physically make these kinds of improvements. “But in this case, they were able to do it remotely from an Earth-bound location,” he added. “And of equal importance, the improvements were retroactive, which meant that the previous six years of data were also entirely reprocessed.” The research team cataloged 1.4 million quasars—galaxies that harbor at their centers active supermassive black holes. Over the course of a year, they narrowed their search to 1,100 objects, of which five were determined to be newly discovered gamma-ray blazars that were the farthest away and youngest ever identified. “After using our filters and other devices, we were left with about 1,100 sources,” Paliya said in a statement. “And then we did the diagnostics for all of these and were able to narrow them down to 25 to 30 sources. “But we still had to confirm that what we had detected was scientifically authentic,” he added. “So we performed a number of other simulations and were able to derive properties such as black hole mass and jet power. “Ultimately, we confirmed that these five sources were guaranteed to be gamma-ray blazars, with the farthest one being about 1.4 billion years old from the beginning of time.” They are also some of the largest types of black holes ever observed, on the order of hundreds of thousands to billions of times the mass of the Sun. All galaxies have black holes at their centers with some actively feeding on the matter surrounding them and others lying relatively dormant. According to Ajello, one out of every 10 black holes in today’s universe is active, but during the earlier days of the universe about half of black holes were considered active. Ajello said one of the most surprising parts of the discovery was how much the black hole grew in just 1.4 billion years. “How did these incomprehensibly enormous and energy-laden black holes form so quickly?” Ajello said. “Is it because one black hole ate a lot all the time for a very long time? Or maybe because it bumped into other black holes and merged into one? “To be honest, we have no observations supporting either argument,” he added. “When we do eventually solve them, we will learn amazing things about how the universe was born, how it grew into what it has become, and what the distant future might hold as the universe continues to progress toward old age.”


News Article | January 20, 2017
Site: www.huffingtonpost.com

Titan, the largest of Saturn's many moons, is one of the most fascinating bodies in the solar system, and scientists think there could be some sort of strange life living in the moon's liquid methane lakes. Now, NASA has shared an absolutely amazing video of this alien world, taken from a probe as it landed on Titan's surface. The probe, Huygens, landed on Titan back in 2005. Huygens, which was named after Titan's discoverer, Christiaan Huygens, separated from NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Christmas Eve in 2004 and entered the moon's atmosphere 20 days later. As the probe began its descent, it passed through Titan's thick atmosphere, revealing a stunning landscape underneath. "The Huygens images were everything our images from orbit were not," said Carolyn Porco, the leader of the Cassini imaging team. Instead of hazy, sinuous features that we could only guess were streams and drainage channels, here was incontrovertible evidence that at some point in Titan's history -- and perhaps even now -- there were flowing liquid hydrocarbons on the surface. Huygens' images became a Rosetta stone for helping us interpret our subsequent findings on Titan. On its way down, Huygens sampled the atmosphere and took hundreds of pictures, the last few of which even showed the shadow of the probe's parachute as it floated down on Huygens after it landed. The probe, which was created by the European Space Agency, still holds the record for being the most distant landing of any craft that mankind has ever achieved. NASA and the ESA, which worked together on the Cassini-Huygens mission alongside the Italian Space Agency, are highlighting Huygens 12-year-old landing with this astounding video because Cassini's own mission will soon draw to a close. After two decades in space, Cassini has begun its final series of orbits grazing the Saturn's rings. On September 15, Cassini will dive into the gas giant's atmosphere, and that will be the end. One can only imagine, for now, what Cassini will see, but you can check out Huygens's view of Titan in the video above.


News Article | January 25, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

The much-waited images of Saturn's big moon, Tethys, taken by NASA Cassini spacecraft may easily pass off as the planet's own Death Star Mimas. The image of Tethys has been compared by NASA to an eyeball, conspicuous for the presence of Odysseus crater. The death star look was compounded by the circular mark on the left adding more sharpness to the resemblance with the Empire's planet-destroying space station made famous by the Star Wars franchise. Tethys' image was taken by Cassini spacecraft on Nov. 10 at a distance of approximately 228,000 miles from the icy moon. Tethys is the fifth largest moon of Saturn among its 53 confirmed moons and is "composed almost entirely of water ice plus a small amount of rock," according to NASA. Tethys' temperatures are at around -305 degrees Fahrenheit. As noted, the Saturnian icy moon's image is like an eyeball staring off into space. The fiery look by Tethys is contributed by the deep crater borne by the moon with the name Odysseus along with a web of high peaks. Spread in 660 miles, Tethys bears many marks of impacts that shaped its appearance. Big impacts led to the formation of the crater Odysseus and the retreat formed mountain peaks named as Scheria Montes, in the middle of the crater. Meanwhile, Cassini also sent a detailed image of Saturn's Death Star moon Mimas — one of the most ominous moons of Saturn. NASA has already released the image on its official website. Mimas earned the nickname "Death Star" from the movie Star Wars for its resemblance to the famous spacecraft. Cassini captured the image of Mimas when it got close to the moon on Oct. 22, 2016. The images vividly showed Mimas', Herschel Crater. NASA's Cassini mission since 2004 has been very profuse in offering incredible views of Saturn and its ring systems. Thanks to Cassini's ring grazing, many fine images have been unveiled. Recently, the dazzling photos of Daphnis -- Saturn's tiny moon highlighted many processes at work in Saturn's rings. The images of Daphnis showed the ripples caused by the gravities of the small moon when it plowed through the 26-mile-wide gap Keeler Gap with a dramatic effect on the particles at the gap's borders. Cassini is a collaborative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency, The Cassini mission is coming to an end in September 2017. After a long study of Saturn for 12 years, Cassini will be ending itself on 15 September by plunging into the Saturn's atmosphere. As a memorable space mission, the joint U.S-European mission has been able to transform the understanding of the Saturn. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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