After two decades in space, our Cassini spacecraft has ended its journey of exploration. Having expended almost every bit of the rocket propellant it carried to Saturn, operators deliberately plunged Cassini into the planet to ensure Saturn's moons will remain pristine for future exploration—in particular, the ice-covered, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus, but also Titan, with its intriguing pre-biotic chemistry.
Swipe to explore some of Cassini’s final images that were sent to Earth in the hours before its final plunge. As the spacecraft made its fateful dive into the planet's atmosphere, it sent home additional data in real time. Key measurements came from its mass spectrometer, which sampled Saturn's atmosphere, telling us about its composition until contact was lost.
While it's always sad when a mission comes to an end, Cassini's finale plunge is a truly spectacular end for one of the most scientifically rich voyages yet undertaken in our solar system. To truly reveal the wonders of Saturn, we had to go there.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
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