The planetary probe Cassini is now so close to Saturn's rings that they fill the entire frame of the spacecraft's most recent photographs. Cassini, which was launched in 1997, goes into orbit around Saturn on July 1.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft is scheduled to slip between Saturn's rings tonight and then fire its Lockheed Martin-manufactured engine to ease it into an orbit around the planet. If the mission is successful, scientists expect to get the best information they've ever had about the solar system's most puzzling planet.
The spacecraft Cassini, a joint effort of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency, will slip into orbit around Saturn this week. In December, the Huygens probe, developed by the European Space Agency, will be dispatched from Cassini to land on Titan, Saturn's frozen moon.
The spacecraft Cassini flew within 1,300 miles of Saturn's largest outer moon, Phoebe, and sent back high-resolution photographs of the moon's cratered surface. Cassini is set to enter a four-year orbit of the ringed planet.
The Marines on Thursday approved Lockheed Martin's C-130J Hercules for operational use. Defense analyst Loren Thompson said the move makes it more likely all branches of the military will eventually approve the aircraft.
The new plan for a robotic mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope may not be adequate to install the necessary instruments. NASA head Sean O'Keefe shouldn't sacrifice Hubble for manned lunar and Mars missions that haven't even been well defined.