Secrets Of The Rings

WHAT CASSINI DISCOVERED WHEN IT GOT TO SATURN--AND THE WONDERS IT MAY UNCOVER IN THE MISSION TO COME

For a spacecraft that had spent nearly seven years in flight and journeyed more than 2.2 billion miles to get where it was going, the Cassini-Huygens Saturn probe did a funny thing when it closed in on the ringed planet last week: it hid.

Traveling at a breakneck 54,000 m.p.h.--four times its cruising speed--the ship was no longer flying toward the planet but falling toward it, on a high-speed trajectory that could send it skimming past Saturn and back out into space. If the ship was going to enter a stable orbit, it would have to fire its little braking rocket...

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