Mission controllers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in Pasadena, California, say that the Cassini spacecraft is now moving into an orbital position that enables it to capture images of the massive and beautiful rings surrounding the gas giant Saturn.
Cassini has been studying the planet, its ring systems and its moons, since achieving orbital insertion around the distant world, on July 1, 2004. For the past two years, it flew in an orbit that did not allow it to observe the planet's rings.
Now that the orbiter is changing course, it again passes above and below Saturn's equatorial plane. The drawback is that the spacecraft is now incapable of flying by interesting objects in the gas giant's orbit, such as the moons Enceladus and Titan.
“A group of scientists has restarted the team's studies of propeller-shaped gaps. These gaps are cleared out by objects that are smaller than known moons but larger than typical ring particles. Cassini scientists haven't seen propellers in two years,” a JPL press release informs.