NASA's Cassini spacecraft burns up over Saturn

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By: Associated Press
September 15, 2017

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft is no more. It disintegrated in the skies above Saturn early Friday, following a remarkable journey of 20 years.

Confirmation of Cassini's expected demise came around 7:55 a.m. That's when radio signals from the spacecraft -- a final burst of scientific data -- came to an abrupt halt. The radio waves went flat, and the spacecraft fell silent.

Cassini actually burned up like a meteor 83 minutes earlier, as it dove through Saturn's atmosphere, but it took that long for the last signal to arrive at Earth.

The only spacecraft to ever orbit Saturn, Cassini revealed the planet, its rings, and its moons up close. Perhaps most tantalizing, ocean worlds were unveiled on the moons Enceladus and Titan, which could possibly harbor life.

Cassini snapped its "last memento photos" of the Saturn system Thursday. Ever dutiful to the end, it sampled Saturn's atmosphere Friday morning as it made its final, fateful plunge.


By: Associated Press
September 15, 2017

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft at Saturn is closing in on its fiery finish, following a remarkable journey of 20 years.

Cassini is on course to plunge through Saturn's atmosphere and vaporize like a meteor Friday morning.

Flight controllers at California's Jet Propulsion Laboratory expect one last burst of scientific data from Cassini before the radio waves go flat, and the spacecraft falls silent.

The only spacecraft to ever orbit Saturn, Cassini revealed the planet, its rings, and its moons up close.

Cassini departed Earth in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004. Its hitchhiking companion, Huygens, landed on the moon Titan in 2005. No spacecraft from Earth has landed farther.



 
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