Thursday, July 01, 2004

Like thread through a buttonhole

Cassini Slips Into Saturn Orbit

PASADENA, California -- Like thread through a buttonhole, the Cassini space probe successfully slipped through a gap in the rings surrounding Saturn -- not once, but twice -- on Wednesday night, kicking off a four-year mission to study the second largest planet in our solar system.

Along the way, the bus-sized spacecraft fired one of its two engines for nearly 96 minutes, made more than a dozen pre-programmed flips, and managed to avoid hitting any pebble-sized particles that might lie between Saturn's rings. And it did it all at speeds reaching 69,000 miles per hour.


Think how thrilled NASA engineers must be right now.

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