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NASA Denies Unusual ‘Tugging’ Between Cassini Spacecraft In Saturn And Planet X

Apr 12, 2016 05:49 AM EDT
An artist rendering of the Cassini spacecraft entering orbit around Saturn
An artist rendering of the Cassini spacecraft entering orbit around Saturn. The two-story, $3.4 billion spacecraft carrying a load of deadly plutonium will zoom within 725 miles of Earth August 17, 1999 to gain momentum for the final leg of its meandering, seven-year voyage to Saturn. Cassini's return, two years after NASA launched the largest and most expensive unmanned spacecraft ever, poses virtually no risk, mission officials say. The probe will approach Earth at about 35,000 mph. Its speed will increase by about 11,000 mph after the swingby.
(Photo : NASA via Getty Images)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has denied the claims of unusual tugging between the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn and an undiscovered planet dubbed as Planet 9 or Planet X.

"Although we'd love it if Cassini could help detect a new planet in the solar system, we do not see any perturbations in our orbit that we cannot explain with our current models," Earl Maize, Cassini project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.

NASA also explains that if Planet X do exist outside the orbit of Neptune, It would most likely affect the orbit of Saturn and not Cassini. Planet X or Planet 9 is considered to be 10 times the mass of Earth,

The news about the mysterious anomaly in the orbit of Cassini due to the gravitational tug of the massive undiscovered planet started circulating after researchers at CalTech published a study in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, revealing the existence of Planet X or Planet 9.

In some reports, as per Independent, Planet X is associated with the destruction or Earth or a sign of mass extinction. However, the author of the study quickly responded to the false implication of Planet X's discovery, calling the claims "idiotic writing."

"While the proposed planet's existence may eventually be confirmed by other means, mission navigators have observed no unexplained deviations in the spacecraft's orbit since its arrival there in 2004," NASA said.

However, some scientist believes that the possible location of the theoretical planet lurking outside the solar system can be ruled out if data tracking Cassini's position are available until the year 2020. However, NASA noted that Cassini is bound to end in late 2017 due to low fuel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

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