NASA is preparing to send its long-lived Cassini probe into the unexplored region between Saturn and its rings for a scientific grand finale before the spacecraft's suicidal plunge into the planet, space officials said on Tuesday. Nathan Frandino reports.
"Cassini's grand finale is a brand new adventure." NASA's unmanned Cassini spacecraft preparing to dive into the unexplored rings of Saturn. After 13 years spent studying the giant planet, the probe is on its final mission. Using the gravity from one of Saturn's moons, NASA plans to slingshot Cassini into a new orbit between the planet and its rings. Officials hope to learn more about the picturesque rings, such as their composition... and whether they've been around as long as the 4.6 billion year-old planet they decorate. Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spilker is hopeful for what they'll learn. (SOUNDBITE) CASSINI PROJECT SCIENTIST LINDA SPILKER SAYING: "In fact I wouldn't be a bit surprised if some of the discoveries we make with Cassini might be the very best of the mission from these grand finale orbits." Cassini's final mission is a one-way trip: NASA plans to crash the probe into Saturn in September.