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Cassini mission ends with final plunge into Saturn

Cassini mission ends with final plunge into Saturn
From Engadget - September 15, 2017

The spacecraft did not quite die when it hit Saturn, as a tiny trace of it -- its final radio signals -- reached Earth 83 minutes later. It was a billion miles aways when it crashed on Saturn, a gas giant 764 times larger than Earth by volume. Despite minimal risks, NASA, JPL and its partners crashed and burned it on Saturn to ensure that any stray microbes would not get to Titan and other moons, which hold the potential to support life.

During its mission, Cassini made numerous scientific discoveries and significantly changed the way we think about our solar system. Some of the highlights include finding vertical structures on Saturn's rings, landing the Huygens probe on Titan, photographing Titan's surprisingly Earth-like frozen landscape, finding saline flats that show Titan could support life and finding water on the tiny moon Enceladus (for more, see our summary here).

Suffice to say, the Cassini team was emotional in the final hours. "I am going to call this the end of mission," said Maize, once the signal disappeared. "Project manager, off the net." As with Voyager, the Mars rover Spirit and other prolific spacecraft, the team became more than attached to Cassini. "We ca not go there ourselves, so we build a spacecraft and load it up with instruments, and then we put on our hopes and desires and we send them there," said science planner Jo Pitesky.

CassiniSaturn (@CassiniSaturn) September 15, 2017

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