13 September 2017
TIME reports that the Cassini spacecraft is “locked on a final approach” to Saturn. The AP reports that as the “only spacecraft ever to orbit Saturn, Cassini spent the past five months exploring the uncharted territory between the gaseous planet and its dazzling rings. It’s darted 22 times between that gap, sending back ever more wondrous photos.” Cassini will end its 20-year voyage on Friday when it will be vaporized by Saturn’s atmosphere, but not before “sampling Saturn’s atmosphere and beaming back data” to Earth. NASA Program Scientist Curt Neibur said, “The mission has been insanely, wildly, beautifully successful, and it’s coming to an end. I find great comfort in the fact that Cassini will continue teaching us up to the very last second.” NASA made the decision to crash Cassini into Saturn to avoid a potential collision of the spacecraft with Saturn’s moon Enceladus, as “NASA wants future robotic explorers to find pristine worlds where life might possibly exist, free of Earthly contamination.” (Image Credit: NASA)
More Info (TIME)
More Info (Associated Press)