Peggy is something along the edge of Saturn's ring, a glitch whose source we've never seen. Cassini took a last peek at Peggy during its Grand Finale destructive plunge, adding a final piece to the puzzle for future researchers to pour over when trying to understand this mysterious disturbance.
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On September 15, Cassini's 20-year-long exploration of the Saturnian system will finally -- regrettably -- come to an end. But even in its final act, the spacecraft has been sending back some of the most detailed images it's ever taken. In one of its recent dives into the gap between Saturn and its rings, the spacecraft took a sequence of photos that offer an striking and unusual view of Saturn's main rings -- and now it's a mini-movie.
As things here on Earth become increasingly more Theatre of the Absurd, NASA's Cassini spacecraft whizzes millions of kilometres away, unaffected by our intra-human squabbling. After 20 years of heading toward and exploring the Saturn system, on September 15, Cassini will plunge itself into the planet's atmosphere, broadcasting the whole thing like a tearfully beautiful sequel to The Iron Giant.
Cassini's six-month-long Grand Finale mission has become the unofficial nerd Super Bowl: each time the NASA-led spacecraft drops a new batch of raw images, we jump to our computers and frantically scroll through to find the best. (Actually, we never leave our computers, because we are nerds.) But in any case, the raw photos from Cassini's second dive into the gap between Saturn and its rings are now available -- and honestly, they might even be better than the first round.
Today, Cassini prepares to once again boldly go where no spacecraft has gone before: into the gap between Saturn and its rings. While we're all excited to see the the results of Cassini's second dive, astronomers are still parsing through the findings from her first. And some, including a soundscape generated from the emptiness, are pretty freaky.