Cassini cruises to Saturn


  • Randy Showstack


While some people had warned that the Cassini spacecraft might crash into the Earth's atmosphere and spread plutonium dust around the planet, its flyby around the Earth on route to Saturn went smoothly, according to NASA.

The $3.4 billion probe that is powered by more than 32 kg of plutonium swung by the Earth at 03.28 Universal Time on August 18 at a distance of 1171 km above the Earth, according to engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.