Sep 4, 2017

Two-Decade Space Mission Reaches Dramatic End: Discovery Presents Original Special SATURN: INSIDE THE RINGS Sept. 15

– From the makers of Discovery's award-winning JUPITER: CLOSE ENCOUNTER, the riveting new one-hour special unveils the engineering of NASA's Cassini Spacecraft and its incredible findings while orbiting Saturn – 

– Original Canadian special from Discovery's Exploration Production Inc. to air in dozens of countries following world debut in Canada – 

"This is the mission that completely trumps what we think is exciting about space.
Cassini was launched to explore the rings and moons around Saturn, and what this team found there has blown the [science] world away! " 

– Dan Riskin, Anchor, Discovery's SATURN: INSIDE THE RINGS

A dramatic finale is planned for NASA's Cassini Spacecraft, the biggest interplanetary spacecraft NASA has ever built. 

On Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT – just hours after the spacecraft's planned demise – the original Discovery special "SATURN: INSIDE THE RINGS," produced by Exploration Production Inc. (EPI) and anchored by DAILY PLANET co-host Dr. Dan Riskin, delivers raw coverage of the final moments of the Cassini team's mission and spacecraft from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. 

The one-hour special then takes viewers on the mission's unprecedented journey, revealing what it took to build a machine that could endure years of exploration across the solar system and transform what we know about the ringed planet.

Anchored from Pasadena, Calif. by Dr. Dan Riskin, "SATURN: INSIDE THE RINGS" brings viewers unparalleled access to NASA's epic mission finale, airing Sept 15 at 7 p.m. ET on Discovery.

After more than 453,048 images and discoveries that inspired nearly 4,000 scientific papers, NASA's Cassini team must wind down their mission. 

With no fuel left in the spacecraft and in order to protect discoveries they've made, the team will navigate Cassini through its closest and final dive toward Saturn, torquing and resisting the pressure of the gas giant as it collects final precious bits of unprecedented science before it succumbs to the heat and pressure of the planet's atmosphere.

Bringing viewers to the heart of the action, the gripping original Canadian-produced special will share Cassini's last images and capture firsthand the emotions of the team's scientists and engineers as they collect data from their spacecraft one last time.

Launched in 1997, Cassini and its passenger probe Huygens travelled 3.5 billion kilometres to reach Saturn. What followed has made Cassini a mission of firsts, including:
  • First to get into Saturn's orbit 
  • First to land a probe on a moon in the outer solar system – Saturn's biggest, Titan 
  • First to find an ocean world beneath the icy crust of a small moon – Enceladus 
  • First to dive inside Saturn's rings 
  • And soon to become the first to crash and vaporize in Saturn's atmosphere
Fast facts and figures about Saturn and the Cassini Spacecraft:
  • Saturn is the second largest planet in the solar system – 120,000 kilometres in diameter and nearly ten times the diameter of Earth 
  • Saturn is a windy planet, with winds reaching up to 1,800 kilometres per hour 
  • It takes Saturn approximately 29 Earth years to complete one orbit around the sun 
  • Each of Saturn's four seasons last about seven years 
  • Saturn's largest moon, Titan, is the most Earth-like object in the solar system 
  • Cassini will be the third spacecraft to intentionally impact on – or vaporize near – a planet 
  • Cassini is approximately the size of a school bus and has travelled more than 3.5 billion kilometres to get to the Saturn system 
  • Cassini could travel from New York City to Los Angeles in less than three minutes
More information on the Cassini mission is available on NASA's website.

"SATURN: INSIDE THE RINGS" is produced by Discovery's Exploration Production Inc. (EPI), the same team that brought viewers 2016's "JUPITER: CLOSE ENCOUNTER," which reached 953,000 total viewers when it premiered in July of 2016. 

The special's producer is Shelley Ayres. Kelly McKeown is Director of Production. Nanci MacLean is Vice-President, Bell Media Studios. 

Ken MacDonald is Vice-President and General Manager, Discovery Networks. 

Tracey Pearce is President, Distribution and Pay, Bell Media.

International distribution is led by Tony Leadman of Exploration Distribution Inc. 

Following its world premiere in Canada, "SATURN: INSIDE THE RINGS" will air in 171 countries around the world on National Geographic.

Cassini Hashtag: #SaturnInsideTheRings

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