This afternoon, NASA is going to make an announcement about big findings from the Cassini spacecraft, a probe that’s been exploring the Saturn system since 2004. This particular announcement will revolve around “new results about ocean worlds” in our Solar System, so that means we’ll most likely be focusing on either Titan or Enceladus. The two moons of Saturn are thought to harbor liquid water. Enceladus has a subsurface ocean and this saltwater periodically erupts from the moon’s surface as plumes. Titan’s surface, in comparison, is dotted by lakes and seas of liquid methane and ethane.
These new findings from Cassini come at a time when the spacecraft is about to meet its end
Ironically, these new findings from Cassini come at a time when the spacecraft is about to meet its end. After 13 years at Saturn, the vehicle is about to start its grand finale — the last few orbits Cassini will make around the planet. On April 22nd, the spacecraft will fly close by Titan and put itself into a tight path between Saturn and its rings. Cassini will eventually complete 22 of these orbits and then nosedive into Saturn itself, where it will burn up and break apart.
But there’s plenty more to learn from Cassini before that happens, including today’s results. A panel of experts will discuss the latest findings at the James Webb Auditorium at NASA’s Washington, DC headquarters. NASA says the news will help us figure out how to explore ocean worlds in the future, including other tantalizing moons like Europa. Check back here at 2PM ET to watch the announcement live.