Thursday, April 27, 2017
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NASA's Cassini completes first dive between Saturn's rings

27 Apr 2017 | 6:01 PM

WASHINGTON: NASA's Cassini spacecraft has successful executed its historic first-ever dive through the narrow gap between the planet Saturn and its rings, marking the beginning of the 'Grand Finale' of the 20-year-long journey.

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Washington

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has successful executed its historic first-ever dive through the narrow gap between the planet Saturn and its rings, marking the beginning of the 'Grand Finale' of the 20-year-long journey.

The spacecraft is in the process of beaming back science data collected during its passage, through NASA' Deep Space Network Goldstone Complex in California's Mojave Desert.

"In the grandest tradition of exploration, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has once again blazed a trail, showing us new wonders and demonstrating where our curiosity can take us if we dare," said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA in the US.

As it dove through the gap, Cassini came within about 3,000 kilometres of Saturn's cloud tops and within about 300 kilometres of the innermost visible edge of the rings.

While mission managers were confident Cassini would pass through the gap successfully, they took extra precautions with this first dive, as the region had never been explored.

"No spacecraft has ever been this close to Saturn before. We could only rely on predictions, based on our experience with Saturn's other rings, of what we thought this gap between the rings and Saturn would be like," said Earl Maize of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US.

"I am delighted to report that Cassini shot through the gap just as we planned and has come out the other side in excellent shape," said Maize.

The gap between the rings and the top of Saturn's atmosphere is about 2,000 kilometres wide.

The best models for the region suggested that if there were ring particles in the area where Cassini crossed the ring plane, they would be tiny, on the scale of smoke particles.

The spacecraft zipped through this region at speeds of about 124,000 km per hour relative to the planet, so that small particles hitting a sensitive area could potentially have disabled the spacecraft.

As a protective measure, the spacecraft used its large, dish-shaped high-gain antenna four meters across as a shield, orienting it in the direction of oncoming ring particles.

This meant that the spacecraft was out of contact with Earth during the ring-plane crossing on April 26.

Cassini was programmed to collect science data while close to the planet and turn toward Earth to make contact about 20 hours after the crossing. Its next dive through the gap is scheduled for May 2.

Launched in 1997, Cassini arrived at Saturn in 2004.

Following its last close flyby of the large moon Titan on April 21, Cassini began what mission planners are calling its "Grand Finale."

During this final chapter, Cassini loops Saturn approximately once per week, making a total of 22 dives between the rings and the planet.

Data from this first dive will help engineers understand if and how they will need to protect the spacecraft on its future ring-plane crossings.

The spacecraft is on a trajectory that will eventually plunge into Saturn's atmosphere — and end Cassini's mission — on September 15. — PTI

NASA's Cassini completes first dive between Saturn's ringsPhoto source: Thinkstock
Vinegar may help protect Great Barrier Reef

Vinegar may help protect Great Barrier Reef

27 Apr 2017 | 4:45 PM

MELBOURNE: Common household vinegar may help protect Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef by effectively and quickly killing the coral-munching crown-of-thorns starfish, scientists said on Thursday.

Global sea levels may rise by over three metres

Global sea levels may rise by over three metres

27 Apr 2017 | 4:16 PM

LONDON: Global sea levels could rise by over three metres — half a metre more than previously thought — this century alone, according to a new study.

Jamun used to make low-cost solar cells

Jamun used to make low-cost solar cells

26 Apr 2017 | 10:16 PM

NEW DELHI:Plucking and feasting on fresh, delectable jamuns is a favourite childhood pastime during summer months, but scientists at IIT Roorkee have found a novel use for the juicy Indian fruit - making inexpensive solar cells.

Apple to offer free coding, art classes

Apple to offer free coding, art classes

26 Apr 2017 | 2:39 PM

NEW YORK: Aiming to educate communities globally, Apple will launch numerous teaching sessions in May in all its 495 stores, ranging in topics from photo and video to music, coding, art and design and more.

NASA launches stadium-sized balloon to collect near-space data

NASA launches stadium-sized balloon to collect near-space data

26 Apr 2017 | 3:42 PM

WELLINGTON: A stadium-sized pressure balloon launched by NASA in New Zealand began collecting data in near space on Wednesday, beginning a 100-day planned journey after several launch attempts were thwarted by storms and cyclones.

Fish and chips may hold human DNA clues

Fish and chips may hold human DNA clues

25 Apr 2017 | 11:35 PM

MELBOURNE:The classic fish and chips dish may hold the key to understanding the origins of DNA memory which is critical to human development, a new study suggests.

Ask Siri to read out your WhatsApp messages

Ask Siri to read out your WhatsApp messages

25 Apr 2017 | 12:50 PM

NEW YORK: If you are using WhatsApp on iOS, then you can ask your "intelligent assistant" Siri to read out latest messages for you while you can go handsfree.

Blood pressure drug may help treat skin cancer

Blood pressure drug may help treat skin cancer

24 Apr 2017 | 5:19 PM

LOS ANGELES: A drug commonly used to treat high blood pressure may protect against the sun-induced cell damage that leads to skin cancer, a new study claims.

Men crack sexist jokes to reaffirm their masculinity

Men crack sexist jokes to reaffirm their masculinity

23 Apr 2017 | 6:08 PM

WASHINGTON: Cracking sexist and anti-gay jokes are a way for some men to reaffirm their shaky sense of self, especially when they feel their masculinity is being threatened, say scientists.

UK schools teaching digital generation 'netiquette'

UK schools teaching digital generation 'netiquette'

23 Apr 2017 | 8:31 PM

LONDON: Schools in the UK are teaching children "netiquette" to stop them from texting at mealtimes, announcing deaths on Facebook or dumping romantic partners via WhatsApp, according to a media report.

Indian scientists find new ways to detect 'naked singularity'

Indian scientists find new ways to detect 'naked singularity'

21 Apr 2017 | 9:18 PM

MUMBAI: In a significant find, a team of scientists from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) here has found novel ways to detect a bare or naked "singularity" — the most extreme object in the universe.

Most habitable planets may lack dry land

Most habitable planets may lack dry land

21 Apr 2017 | 8:57 PM

LONDON: Most habitable planets may lack dry land and would be dominated by oceans spanning over 90 per cent of their surface area, scientists say.

Gen-next cards to replace ATM pins with fingerprints

Gen-next cards to replace ATM pins with fingerprints

20 Apr 2017 | 8:27 PM

WASHINGTON:Forgot your ATM pin? A next- generation biometric card that lets you authenticate your payments with your fingerprints could soon come to your aid.

New ultrasonic clothes dryer to halve drying time

New ultrasonic clothes dryer to halve drying time

20 Apr 2017 | 8:17 PM

WASHINGTON:Scientists have developed a new tumbler dryer that can dry clothes twice as fast, while consuming 70 per cent less energy than conventional dryers.

Soon, Facebook tech will let our brains type!

Soon, Facebook tech will let our brains type!

20 Apr 2017 | 8:09 PM

LOS ANGELES:Facebook is working on a new 'silent speech' technology that will allow people to type directly with their brains, drastically reducing the time it takes to convert our thoughts into written words.

Apple iPhone 8 may have fingerprint reader at back

Apple iPhone 8 may have fingerprint reader at back

20 Apr 2017 | 12:16 PM

A new diagram of iPhone 8 suggests that Apple may move the fingerprint reader to the back of the phone and the camera modules also appear to have changed.

First detailed global Internet atlas developed

First detailed global Internet atlas developed

19 Apr 2017 | 9:13 PM

WASHINGTON: Scientists have developed the first global Internet Atlas — including a detailed map of the internet's physical structure in India — an advance that could help guard the infrastucture from terrorism or extreme weather events.

Massive super-Jupiter exoplanet discovered

Massive super-Jupiter exoplanet discovered

19 Apr 2017 | 9:08 PM

TOKYO: Astronomers have found a new exoplanet about three times more massive than Jupiter, orbiting a star 21,000 light years away from Earth.

NASA orbiter spots strange secondary craters on Mars

NASA orbiter spots strange secondary craters on Mars

19 Apr 2017 | 8:41 PM

WASHINGTON: NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has captured a region of Mars sprayed with strange-shaped secondary craters.

Earliest tooth-fillings discovered in 13,000-year-old skeleton

Earliest tooth-fillings discovered in 13,000-year-old skeleton

19 Apr 2017 | 8:38 PM

LONDON: Scientists have discovered 13,000- year-old teeth with traces of a tar-like substance at an ice age site in Italy, which is the oldest known example of tooth filling.

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