Saturn Exploration

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

After two decades and more than $3 billion the wait is almost over.

An international exploration of the planet Saturn begins this week when the Cassini spacecraft completes a seven-year journey by slipping through the planet's rings and arcing into orbit.

Scientists hope the mission will provide clues to how the planets were formed. A probe will also be sent into the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan which researchers believe has many of the same compounds Earth did before life began.

The joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency began with proposals dating back to 1982.

When Cassini arrives, Saturn will be about 900 million miles from Earth and radio transmission to and from the spacecraft will take more than an hour.

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