“Changing the Paradigm of Where We Look for Life” –WATCH NASA Mission Control Live: Epic Discoveries & Fiery Death of Cassini’s 13-Year Mission (Today’s ‘Galaxy’ Stream)

 
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Mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent a final command Friday morning to the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn, putting the craft into a suicidal dive, plunging into the ringed planet's atmosphere. Flight Director Julie Webster announced "loss of signal" at about 7:55 a.m. ET, followed by Project Manager Earl Maize announcing "end of mission" as the spacecraft began to break up in Saturn's atmosphere.


"Congratulations to you all," Maize announced to applause. "It's been an incredible mission, incredible spacecraft, and you are an incredible team."

Cassini's 13-year mission to explore the strange world of Saturn went on nearly a decade longer than planned. It completed 293 orbits of the planet, snapped 400,000 photos, collected 600 gigabytes of data, discovered seven new moons, two of which, Tital and Enceladus may harbor life, descending into the famed rings and sent its Huygens lander to a successful 2005 touchdown on the surface of yet another moon, Titan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Much of what Cassini found concerned Saturn's moons, a virtual mini solar system in itself, including water plumes on Enceladus, discovered that Hyperion has a statically charged surface and that Saturn's moon system exchanges dust and chunks of material with the planet's ring system.

The Daily Galaxy via NASA/JPL

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