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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

The Finesse of Flying Cassini Between Saturn's Rings

• Wired by Adam Rogers

And like the first ring-crossing two weeks ago, this one required a bit of complicated piloting. Remote-controlling a robot spaceship from 750 million miles away ain't like dusting crops, as Han Solo might say. (RIP.) (Spoilers.)

Cassini's first dramatic pass through the rings of Saturn on April 26 involved some acrobatics. Step one: Get a gravity boost from the moon Titan. In fact, that's how Cassini has been moving around the system since its arrival in 2004—rather than burn precious propellant, the craft tucks into Titan's orbit and then slingshots back out again. This most recent boost was a delicate one, just 609 miles above Titan's surface and not even ten miles above the moon's wan atmosphere. Space, as we keep telling you, is hard.

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