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The Grand Finale, Proximal orbits
JRehling
post Sep 18 2017, 08:34 PM
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This juncture might be a time to remember that extended mission concepts once proposed for Cassini included going into Titan orbit or leaving Saturn orbit and journeying to Uranus. It sounded like the first was infeasible and the second simply unwise.
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Explorer1
post Sep 18 2017, 11:52 PM
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Yep, I remember the idea of Cassini ending up in Titan orbit from both a Stephen Baxter novel, and some speculation on how it could be accomplished in this very forum, circa 2004! ( http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?showtopic=559 ). I still do wonder how plausible the main antenna as a heat shield would be...
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stevesliva
post Sep 19 2017, 01:48 PM
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QUOTE (JRehling @ Sep 18 2017, 03:34 PM) *
leaving Saturn orbit and journeying to Uranus


I think the Saturn orbits >>> Uranus flyby.

If we don't get an ice giant orbiter, though, we damn well better get a couple flybys!
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JRehling
post Sep 19 2017, 03:20 PM
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I don't think the Uranus option ever made much sense. It would have cost a lot of Saturn science and created a huge and risky delay before arrival at Uranus. If anything, it was more of an impressive statement of possibilities.

Of course, in some alternate reality, alternate versions of us in 2029 will say, "Wow, if Cassini hadn't been sent to Uranus, we never would have known about _______!"
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jasedm
post Sep 19 2017, 08:08 PM
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QUOTE (JRehling @ Sep 19 2017, 04:20 PM) *
I don't think the Uranus option ever made much sense. It would have cost a lot of Saturn science and created a huge and risky delay before arrival at Uranus. If anything, it was more of an impressive statement of possibilities.


Agreed.

I think the right decision was made - a 'free' atmosphere probe at Saturn (although not optimised as such) will surely pay dividends. With Uranus' axial tilt also, flyby science would have been shoehorned into the relatively brief period a couple of days either side of closest approach.

It's more than a pity however that an almost perfectly-operational spacecraft had to be disposed of for want of fuel. As ever, it's all in the delta V....

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Explorer1
post Sep 19 2017, 08:25 PM
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During the finale coverage, one member of the team (I forgot who) said that another possible alternative for disposal would have been an orbit far beyond both Enceladus and Titan. It may have been possible, but all the good science is of course in the centre of the system, so they decided to follow the science.

Sure, a few flybys of the irregular moons would have be good, along with plasma and dust science, but they balanced that against the ring and atmosphere science (we'll see what is recovered from the final dive)

See slide 19 here: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/opag/march_08_meet...ons/spilker.pdf
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atomoid
post Sep 20 2017, 01:29 AM
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gif anim of the parting Enceladus-set from September 13
Attached Image
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Ian R
post Sep 29 2017, 02:01 AM
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My pictorial tribute to our dear and departed robotic friend ....


Cassini's Last Dance — A Final Portrait of Saturn by Ian Regan, on Flickr


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