Teachers now have a unique opportunity to engage students in an up-close study of Saturn and its marvelous rings, thanks to a NASA web site following a first-of-its-kind mission.

Two decades and $3.3 billion in the making, an international exploration of Saturn began in earnest last night when the spacecraft Cassini slipped through a gap in the planet's shimmering rings and arced into orbit.

After a seven-year, 2.2 billion-mile journey, Cassini fired its engine June 30 to slow down, allowing itself to be captured by Saturn's gravity. The maneuver kicked off a four-year, 76-orbit


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