RIP Cassini: A Look Back At The Doomed Probe's Most Stunning Saturn Pictures

Image Cache: Alas, all good things must come to an end. Today, NASA will announce the details regarding its Cassini spacecraft's Grand Finale — a resplendent ending to its 20-year-long adventure in space, which will begin later this month. From late April to September 15, Cassini will perform 22 dramatic dives between Saturn and its rings. Then, the brave little orbiter will plunge itself into Saturn's atmosphere and burn up like a meteor — all while sending information back to Earth.

Photo of Saturn by Cassini, taken on 18 December 2012. (Image: NASA)

Browse through the cool photos, animations and diagrams in Gizmodo's Image Cache here.

The orbiter, which launched on 15 October 1997, reached the Saturn system in 2004. Since then, it's beamed back countless gigabytes of data and breathtaking photos, enabling the publication of more than 3000 scientific reports, according to NASA. It's had a good run, but now, it must die — Cassini is running out of fuel, and scientists fear that if it crashes into one of Saturn's 62 moons, the orbiter could contaminate them.

To be fair, going out in a blaze of glory (literally) is the most dignified way to go. Before she leaves us forever, let's take a look back at some of Cassini's greatest hits:

View of Saturn's moon, Titan. (4 December 2015)

Image: NASA

Saturn and its moon, Tethys. Tethys isn't that small — Saturn's just huge. (26 November 2012)

Image: NASA

Spinning vortex on Saturn's north pole, AKA "The Rose". (29 April 2013)

Image: NASA

Saturn and its large son (read: moon), Titan. (29 August 2012)

Image: NASA

Saturn and five of its moons. (12 September 2011)

Image: NASA

Saturn's tiny moon, Pan, AKA the "dumpling moon". (7 March 2017)

Image: NASA

View from within Saturn's shadow. (3 February 2016)

Image: NASA

Enceladus' north pole. (15 October 2015)

Image: NASA

Saturn's moon, Helene. She's small. (17 September 2010)

Saturn's "Death Star" Moon, Mimas. (22 October 2016)

Of course, some rings. (23 May 2005)

Image: NASA

RIP Cassini (1997-2017).

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