Cassini's first dive, finds "The Big Empty"

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An artists impression of the Cassini spacecraft crossing the ring plane.
The first dive between Saturn and its rings finds very little debris (image credit: NASA).

The Cassini spacecraft successfully completed its first dive between the planet Saturn and its rings, something no other craft had done before. Before attempting the dive, scientists weren't sure exactly how much dust/debris would exist in this gap. As a precaution, the orbital scientists oriented Cassini so that its radio antennae pointed in the direction of its trajectory to help protect some of its more sensitive instruments. While performing the dive, mission scientists performed measurements to see just how dusty the environment between the rings was, and it turns out... it's very empty! Mission scientists converted the data into audio tracks to listen for 'pings:' sounds made by small particles hitting the space craft. They heard very few.

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Cassini's first dive, finds "The Big Empty"
NASA
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Jesse Rogerson, PhD

Jesse is a passionate scientist, educator, and science communicator. As an assistant professor at York University in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society, he teaches three classes: History of Astronomy, Introduction to Astronomy, and Exploring the Solar System. He frequently collaborates with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and lends his expert voice to the Ingenium Channel. Jesse is an astrophysicist, and his research explores how super massive black holes evolve through time. Whether in the classroom, through social media, or on TV, he encourages conversations about how science and society intersect, and why science is relevant in our daily lives.