Cassini’s Final Hours by the Numbers

Posted on Categories Discover Magazine

Cassini spent part of its Grand Finale diving through the gap between Saturn and its rings, taking observations that had never before been attempted. (Credit: JPL/Caltech)

The Cassini probe has given us a spectacular view of the Saturn system over the 13 years it’s been there. In that time, it’s opened up untold wonders of our second-largest planet and its 62 spectacular moons. Here are a few big-to-small numbers to know as Cassini prepares for self-destruction:

4.9 billion miles: the total distance traversed by Cassini in the Saturn system since 2004

635 gigabytes: the total volume of data sent back by Cassini

615 watts: the amount of power Cassini currently produces

512 kilobytes: the amount of onboard storage capacity on Cassini

294: the number of times Cassini flew by Titan and received a gravity boost, including a few skims through the upper atmosphere

Plutonium 238: Cassini’s power source

24: approximate number of moons visited by Cassini (out of 62)

19 years, 1 month: Cassini’s total time in space, from launch until end of mission

14 hours: the time between the last image from Cassini and its crash

13 years: the time Cassini has spent at Saturn

6: the number of moons discovered by Cassini

4:55 a.m. PDT: when Cassini will enter Saturn’s atmosphere and begin to break up

2 minutes: the amount of time it will take Saturn to rip Cassini apart

1 hour, 23 minutes: the time it takes for a signal from Cassini to reach Earth due to the vast distance between us and Saturn

1 megapixel: the resolution of Cassini’s camera

1 in a million: the chance that a fuel-less, ill-controlled Cassini might have smashed into Enceladus and potentially contaminated it

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