[U Poetry] Cassini Has Plunged Through Saturn’s Icy Ring Plane — But Runs Silent, Until Early Tomorrow, Now…

A couple of hours ago (local time), after twisting with unwasted grace — to face its large dish into the path of potential damage, much like a shield — Cassini likely whizzed through a gap in the Saturnian rings, completely unscathed.

But because she is running silent, we won’t know whether she hit a stray block of ice or rock (perhaps even just the size of an SUV), and was damaged or obliterated, until very late tonight. So we wait — and hold our breath:

. . . .If all goes as planned:

— 5 p.m. PDT (8 p.m. EDT) on April 25: Cassini is approaching Saturn over the planet’s northern hemisphere in advance of its first of 22 planned dives through the gap between the planet and its rings.

— 1:34 a.m. PDT (4:34 a.m. EDT) on April 26: As it passes from north to south over Saturn, Cassini begins a 14-minute turn to point its high-gain antenna into the direction of oncoming ring particles. In this orientation, the antenna acts as a protective shield for Cassini’s instruments and engineering systems.

No earlier than around midnight PDT on April 26 (3 a.m. EDT on April 27): Earth has its first opportunity to regain contact with Cassini as the giant, 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, listens for the spacecraft’s radio signal.

— Likely no earlier than 12:30 a.m. PDT (3:30 a.m. EDT) on April 27: Images are scheduled to become available from the spacecraft. . . .

While we wait — we will gaze skyward, facing generally south; smile expectantly, and read appropriately relatable poetry — sharing bits of that here — with an edited image — late in the day. Onward — and, in honor of this shepherded moon-lette — do today “dare mighty things“, just as the Cassini team has, for over 13 years now.



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