NASAの土星探査機カッシーニの最新画像と発表を速報

NASA(アメリカ航空宇宙局)のカッシーニと土星についての公式発表記事を意訳を避け忠実に翻訳します

2017.04.05:土星探査機カッシーニの「最後の旅路」が始まる

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his illustration shows NASA’s Cassini spacecraft above Saturn’s northern hemisphere prior to one of its 22 grand finale dives.
このイラストはNASAの土星探査機カッシーニが最後となる22回の土星周回突入を前にして土星の北半球上空にいるところを描いたものです。
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech


オリジナル記事:NASA’s Cassini Mission Prepares for ‘Grand Finale’ at Saturn

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn since 2004, is about to begin the final chapter of its remarkable story. On Wednesday, April 26, the spacecraft will make the first in a series of dives through the 1,500-mile-wide (2,400-kilometer) gap between Saturn and its rings as part of the mission’s grand finale.
2004年以来土星の周回軌道上にあったNASAの土星探査機カッシーニは、その特筆すべき物語の最後の章を書き加えようとしています。4月26日(水)に探査機は土星と土星の環の間の1,500マイル幅(2,400キロメートル)の間隙を通過する最後のミッションを開始する予定です。

“No spacecraft has ever gone through the unique region that we’ll attempt to boldly cross 22 times,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “What we learn from Cassini’s daring final orbits will further our understanding of how giant planets, and planetary systems everywhere, form and evolve. This is truly discovery in action to the very end.”
「いかなる探査機も、これからカッシーニが22回にわたり通過するユニークな空間を通ったことはありませんでした。」と、ワシントンのNASA本部の科学ミッション・ディレクターであるThomas Zurbuchenは述べています。「カッシーニの挑戦的な最後の軌道から学ぶことは、巨大な惑星や惑星系がどのように形成され、進化するかを理解することにつながります。それが最後のミッションにおける真の発見になるのです」

During its time at Saturn, Cassini has made numerous dramatic discoveries, including a global ocean that showed indications of hydrothermal activity within the icy moon Enceladus, and liquid methane seas on its moon Titan.
カッシーニが土星軌道に滞在していた間に、氷に富む衛星エンケラドゥス内で熱水活動の兆候を示した衛星全体に及ぶ海洋の存在や、衛星タイタンの液体メタンの海など、数多くの劇的な発見をしました。

Now 20 years since launching from Earth, and after 13 years orbiting the ringed planet, Cassini is running low on fuel. In 2010, NASA decided to end the mission with a purposeful plunge into Saturn this year in order to protect and preserve the planet’s moons for future exploration – especially the potentially habitable Enceladus.
地球からの打ち上げから20年が過ぎ、土星軌道を周回した13年を経て、カッシーニの燃料が底をつきかけています。 2010年にNASAは、将来の衛星探査、特に潜在的に居住可能と推定されるエンケラドスの環境を保護・保存するために、今年カッシーニを土星へ突入させることでミッションを終了させることに決定しました。

But the beginning of the end for Cassini is, in many ways, like a whole new mission. Using expertise gained over the mission’s many years, Cassini engineers designed a flight plan that will maximize the scientific value of sending the spacecraft toward its fateful plunge into the planet on Sept. 15. As it ticks off its terminal orbits during the next five months, the mission will rack up an impressive list of scientific achievements.

“This planned conclusion for Cassini’s journey was far and away the preferred choice for the mission’s scientists,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. “Cassini will make some of its most extraordinary observations at the end of its long life.”

The mission team hopes to gain powerful insights into the planet’s internal structure and the origins of the rings, obtain the first-ever sampling of Saturn’s atmosphere and particles coming from the main rings, and capture the closest-ever views of Saturn’s clouds and inner rings. The team currently is making final checks on the list of commands the robotic probe will follow to carry out its science observations, called a sequence, as it begins the finale. That sequence is scheduled to be uploaded to the spacecraft on Tuesday, April 11.

Cassini will transition to its grand finale orbits, with a last close flyby of Saturn’s giant moon Titan, on Saturday, April 22. As it has many times over the course of the mission, Titan’s gravity will bend Cassini’s flight path. Cassini’s orbit then will shrink so that instead of making its closest approach to Saturn just outside the rings, it will begin passing between the planet and the inner edge of its rings.

“Based on our best models, we expect the gap to be clear of particles large enough to damage the spacecraft. But we’re also being cautious by using our large antenna as a shield on the first pass, as we determine whether it’s safe to expose the science instruments to that environment on future passes,” said Earl Maize, Cassini project manager at JPL. “Certainly there are some unknowns, but that’s one of the reasons we’re doing this kind of daring exploration at the end of the mission.”

In mid-September, following a distant encounter with Titan, the spacecraft’s path will be bent so that it dives into the planet. When Cassini makes its final plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, it will send data from several instruments – most notably, data on the atmosphere’s composition – until its signal is lost.

“Cassini’s grand finale is so much more than a final plunge,” said Spilker. “It’s a thrilling final chapter for our intrepid spacecraft, and so scientifically rich that it was the clear and obvious choice for how to end the mission.”

Resources on Cassini’s grand finale, including images and video, are available at:https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/grand-finale/grand-finale-resources

An animated video about Cassini’s Grand Finale is available at:https://youtu.be/xrGAQCq9BMU

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter.

More information about Cassini is at:
http://www.nasa.gov/cassini
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov

Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077
dwayne.c.brown@nasa.gov / laura.l.cantillo@nasa.gov

Preston Dyches
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-7013
preston.dyches@jpl.nasa.gov

Last Updated: April 5, 2017
Editor: Karen Northon

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