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how cassini's saturn odyssey exceeds expectations

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how cassini's saturn odyssey exceeds expectations

after 14 years of exploration, the cassini spacecraft is preparing to write its final chapter on the saturn system. no other spacecraft in history has come to know a single planetary system as intimately as cassini knows saturn: cassini is the first spacecraft to visit saturn up close since the voyager probes flew by in 1980 and 1981, and the mission has given scientists their best-ever views of the gas giant. the probe has spent more than a decade observing saturn, studying storms in its cloud tops, learning about its strange, striped atmosphere, probing its cloaked interior and zipping through its more than 60 moons and a ring system stretching more than eight times the planet's radius. "the mission has exceeded all of our expectations, done better than we could have ever dreamed," curt niebur, cassini's program scientist from nasa headquarters in houston, said during a press teleconference in august. "the saturn system is absolutely chock-full of amazing worlds of all sizes, and cassini has been exploring them for the past 13 years. [saturn's in photos: the strangest moons of saturn seen by casssini] "since our arrival in 2004, we've watched the seasons change on saturn, which is just an incredible opportunity, considering a year on saturn lasts 29 earth years," he added. "we've watched the particles and the rings around saturn collide and glide during their gravitational dance, and we've confirmed things that we suspected might exist in...