Well it was fun while it lasted! One of our coating adventures in space will come to a Grand Finale on September 15th when NASA’s Cassini spacecraft and ESA’s Huygens probe plunge into Saturn's atmosphere and burn up. Cassini's mass spec will be taking samples (through our coated flow paths) until the end.
Why is Cassini Grand Finale Crashing into Saturn?
Well basically the probe is running out of fuel to maneuver the craft and they don't want Cassini to crash into one of Saturn's moon and potentially contaminate the surface. Better to burn it up and not take a chance on contamination of a moon. Why they didn't just send the probe up with a gas card is beyond me.
Will it hurt?
I'm sure Saturn won't notice but it sure will be painful to see an end to one of the great space missions. Even at the end the probe will continue to send back great science. According to the Grand Finale web page, the probe will continue to gather important information right to the end. The website states:
- The spacecraft will make detailed maps of Saturn's gravity and magnetic fields, revealing how the planet is arranged internally, and possibly helping to solve the irksome mystery of just how fast Saturn is rotating.
- The final dives will vastly improve our knowledge of how much material is in the rings, bringing us closer to understanding their origins.
- Cassini's particle detectors will sample icy ring particles being funneled into the atmosphere by Saturn's magnetic field.
- Its cameras will take amazing, ultra-close images of Saturn's rings and clouds.
Why are SilcoTek coatings used in the MS sampling systems? Because no other coating has both the inertness and durability to withstand the harsh environment of space and assure samples taken don't react with the instrument flow path. SilcoTek coatings like Dursan beat other industry deactivations and inert surfaces.
- High temperature stability
- Low temperature stability
- Shock resistant and flexible. Won't delaminate
- High purity and inert
- Corrosion resistant
- High tolerance
Watch our coating video and see for yourself!
As far as the ultra-close images go, I'm sure Cassini will be thinking about Wile E. Coyote at the end.
Want to get more information on how to keep your sampling system bio-inert? Get our inert coating guide:
*Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech