Today is a big day for Cassini

Though it won’t make any kind of national news, Cassini actual is doing something I think is more spectacular than anything Olympic-wise. Earlier today, Cassini buzzed the surface of Enceladus, the icy moon of Saturn that surprised everyone with its icy geysers, liquid water and possible oceans.

And by “buzzed”, I mean within 50 km (30 miles) of the surface. That’s amazingly close for a spacecraft flying as fast as Cassini (17.7 km a second or 40,000 miles per hour!!!). The precision, skill and bit o’ luck required to pull that off is just amazing.

The best news is that Cassini has survived and the images are starting to download. It is real tricky to snap a photo given the speed and close distance – kind of like taking a close-up of bug on the wall of a race-track while traveling at 250 mph. But if the photos turn out, we might have some of the most spectacular space photographs ever taken.

You can follow the story at the official blog here.

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