After a 20-year sojourn in the final frontier, at approximately 10:00PM AEST tonight, NASA's Jet Propulsion laboratory lost contact with the Cassini spacecraft, which had plunged into Saturn's atmosphere about an hour and a half prior, ending its 13-year exploration of the Saturn system.
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Space has a funny way of making us feel both incredibly small yet infinitely lucky for being part of such a vast cosmic sorority. Of course, humans have barely scratched the surface of the final frontier -- we've never even sent people beyond the Moon. While many uncrewed spacecraft have done an incredible job of revealing our solar neighbourhood to us, honestly, none did it better than NASA's Cassini probe. After exploring Saturn for 13 years, on September 15 at 9:55PM AEST, the probe will plunge itself into the planet's atmosphere, becoming one with the very object of its fascination.
The end is nigh for NASA's Cassini spacecraft, the intrepid probe that's been studying the Saturn system for the last 13 years. On Friday, September 15, Cassini will plunge itself into Saturn's atmosphere with its antenna pointed toward Earth, becoming part of the place it's called home all these years.
Image Cache: As Cassini's tour of Saturn comes to a close, NASA's getting a bit nostalgic. This week, the space agency released a photo of Saturn's North pole the doomed spacecraft took on April 26 -- the day it started its Grand Finale. It's almost poetic to have a photo of Cassini staring into the void before it perishes within it.
Cassini's last hurrah has been so bittersweet: On the one hand, it marks the end of a 20-year-long journey to explore Saturn and its moons. But the Grand Finale has also featured some of the most spectacular shots of the gas giant and its moons ever taken. It's a complex cocktail of emotions.
Cassini's six-month-long Grand Finale mission has become the unofficial nerd Super Bowl: each time the NASA-led spacecraft drops a new batch of raw images, we jump to our computers and frantically scroll through to find the best. (Actually, we never leave our computers, because we are nerds.) But in any case, the raw photos from Cassini's second dive into the gap between Saturn and its rings are now available -- and honestly, they might even be better than the first round.
Good morning, Cassini! Yesterday, at about 5:00PM AEST, NASA's Deep Space Network Goldstone Complex in California's acquired the orbiter's signal for the first time since it began its series of Grand Finale dives. The photos it took from the space between Saturn and its rings, which have just been released, are nothing short of breathtaking. It's classic Cassini, making the previously impossible look easy.
Image Cache: Sometimes, the majesty of the final frontier -- a cold, unfeeling space -- has the power to make our eyes misty. The images from NASA's Cassini mission have often been able to do this, and since the spacecraft is dying soon, it makes the experience all the more emotional. Before it goes out in a blaze of glory, Cassini has been sending back some of the most incredible images of Saturn and its moons -- but one of its latest from Saturn's rings is especially spectacular.