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Cassini's visiting Saturn and it's going to stay awhile

Global views of Phoebe. [Image Science]
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It took the Cassini spacecraft seven years to get to Saturn. Now that it's arrived, it's going to settle in and make itself at home.

For the next four years it's going to orbit the ringed planet, collecting information about Saturn's moons, its atmosphere, and those mysterious rings.

Iapetus features. [Image Science]
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Once Cassini made it all the way to Saturn, it slipped into a gap between one of the rings and began to orbit the planet.

In a special issue of the journal Science, researchers describe what they've learned from Cassini during this process.

Details of morphology of Phoebe. [Image Science]
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Last summer Cassini began to slow down so it could begin a stable orbit.

It glided over the rings, which are made up of bits of rock and dust, and snapped lots of pictures. Scientists studying these pictures have mapped some rings for the first time and discovered small new moons orbiting in between some rings.

The researchers also learned more about the lightning storms, clouds and winds that make up the weather on Saturn.

Cassini has only just gotten started. It's going to be making 74 trips around Saturn in the upcoming years.


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