The Cassini spacecraft during processing.
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Courtesy of NASA
Cassini Flyby Dangerous for Earth
News story originally written on August 16, 1999
The space probe Cassini will fly by Earth on August 17, 1999. It uses Earth's gravity to make it go faster. In the year 2004, Cassini will reach the planet Saturn. It will study the planet's rings and moons.
The spacecraft uses a chemical that can make people very sick if they breath it in. This chemical is called plutonium. Many people are afraid that something might happen to Cassini during the flyby. If it crashes or burns up, the plutonium would get in our atmosphere.
NASA says that the chances of an accident are very small. They think the goals of the mission are much bigger than the risks.
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