The Cassini spacecraft has been exploring Saturn's system since 2004 and is scheduled to be sent into Saturn's atmosphere at the end of its mission following a final encounter with Titan in 2017.

When the craft makes its journey into Saturn, for how long will it be able to gather and report data back to Earth? Which instruments will still be operational and what kinds of data will they be able to collect?

If it will not be able to report any data during its entry, for how long will the craft itself survive until it is destroyed?

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    $\begingroup$ If similar information for Galileo can be found from its deorbit into Jupiter, comparisons might be able to be made. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$
    – duzzy
    Nov 5, 2015 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ It's antenna isn't shielded against the fires of an atmospheric plunge. It's going to be quickly rendered unable to talk no matter what happens to the probe. $\endgroup$ Nov 6, 2015 at 22:55

1 Answer 1


Define "destroyed". It will no longer be able to maintain attitude control due to torque from the atmosphere at a radius of about 61,700 km. From there we will get no more data from the spacecraft since it can't point the antenna. From our point of view, at that moment, Cassini is buh bye.

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    $\begingroup$ What's the atmospheric density at that point? What information will we get before that point? $\endgroup$ Nov 6, 2015 at 0:30

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