Bruce Peat

15th September 2017

Cassini Saturn Space Probe completes mission


The Cassini space mission has now concluded with the probe breaking up on descent into Saturn's Hydrogen rich atmosphere.

The Cassini mission has been heralded as one of NASA's greatest achievements. The 13 year mission has provided insights and discoveries which could prove hugely valuable, from Saturn's moons having the potential for life, to the make up of Saturn's rings.

Whilst Saturn itself is an inhospitable environment with little to no water or oxygen present in its atmosphere, two of Saturn's moons have the potential for life. One of the moons, Titan, was discovered to have a very similar atmosphere to Earth with vast oceans, land and rainfall present on the planet. The other moon, Enceladus, had pockets of water with plenty of Hydrogen which, alongside CO2 and a chemical reaction called "methanogenesis", could provide energy to support life. 

Another fascinating discovery was on Saturn's North pole where images of a hexagonal shaped north pole (images below) surprised many scientists. It has not yet been deciphered what the exact cause of this is but it is fascinating nonetheless. Both poles also contained a vortex and hurricane storms.

Saturn Hexagon pole gif

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