Almost everything we know today about the beautiful giant ringed planet comes from Cassini, the NASA mission that launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004. Since then, the spacecraft has been beaming home miraculous images and scientific data, revealing countless wonders about the planet, its rings, and 62 moons—including some that could harbor life.
As the mission approaches its final days in 2017, it attempts one last set of daring maneuvers—diving between the innermost ring and the top of Saturn’s atmosphere. Aiming to skim less than 2,000 miles above the cloud tops, no spacecraft has ever gone so close to Saturn, and hopes are high for incredible observations that could solve major mysteries about the planet’s core.
But such a daring maneuver comes with many risks. Join NASA engineers for the tense and triumphant moments as they find out if their gambit has paid off, and discover the wonders that Cassini has revealed over the years.
Watch NOVA: Death Dive to Saturn September 13 at 9:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS. Check listings for additional air-times.
NOVA will be on-scene at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reporting live through Twitter updates, news articles on NOVA Next and in NOVA Lens—our new weekly email newsletter—and a Facebook Live event Friday morning around 8:00 a.m. Eastern. Check out our Instagram (@nova_pbs) for more visual coverage of the Cassini “death dive,” as well, and stay up to date on all of NOVA’s coverage here.