Cassini's Last-Ever Photos Come Down to Earth

Cassini has begun transmitting the final images of its mission revealing a last look at Saturn and its rings before the spacecraft plunges into the planet's atmosphere. This image was captured on September 13

On its last journey after its launch 20 years ago, NASA's Cassini mission began transmitting data before its final plunge into Saturn on Friday.

Launched in 1997, Cassini arrived in orbit around Saturn in 2004 on a mission to study the giant planet, its rings, moons and magnetosphere.

Before its end, Cassini took a variety of samples in an effort to gain a better understanding of the planet's composition.

As expected, Cassini entered Saturn's atmosphere with its thrusters firing to maintain stability, as it sent back a unique final set of science observations, NASA said.

The Space agency added, from that point, the spacecraft will begin to burn up like a meteor.

"For me, it's so fascinating that these missions have lasted for so long", said Kate Semmens, science director at the Nurture Nature Center in Easton. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) This image of Saturn's northern hemisphere was taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on September 13, 2017. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) As it glanced around the Saturn system one final time, NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this view of the planet's giant moon Titan.

"The spacecraft's final signal will be like an echo".




The project manager monitoring Cassini's signal at Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that with the loss of Cassini's signal, just before 5 a.m., the spacecraft would be gone within seconds.

One of Cassini's most important - and surprising - discoveries during its 13 years at Saturn was that the moon Enceladus has an ocean of liquid saltwater beneath its frozen surface.

Even during Cassini's final moments, it will be beaming data back to Eart.

A final close flyby of the moon Titan on April 22 used the moon's gravity to reshape Cassini's trajectory so that the spacecraft leapt over the planet's icy rings to pass between the rings and Saturn. Simply because there is no "follow spacecraft" there, to send back true images of Cassini as it makes its plunge. Cassini's iridium-encased plutonium power source was likely the last part to be destroyed, according to NASA. But none have studied Saturn in such detail as Cassini, named after the French-Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, who discovered in the 17th century that Saturn had several moons and a gap between its rings.

The spacecraft, which has spent 13 years exploring the Saturn system, has generated a trove of scientific data on Saturn and its moons.

"It will be sad to see Cassini go on Friday, especially as the instrument we built is still working perfectly", said Stanley Cowley, professor of solar planetary physics at the University of Leicester.

Related news:

Hot News

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top White House: Hill Tweet Is Firing Offense
Sep 16, 2017 - 00:07
ESPN released its statement via its public relations Twitter account Tuesday, condemning the words of Hill. The Associated Press reports ESPN said on Thursday that it had accepted her apology .

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Terror-related arrests hit record high as threat gathers momentum
Sep 15, 2017 - 00:18
By the end of June this year, 204 people in the United Kingdom were in custody for terrorism-related offences in the country. The Home Office stats include 56 arrests related to the fatal attacks on Westminster, Manchester Arena and London Bridge .

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Oil mixed, but erratic, on United States weather impacts and demand scenario
Sep 15, 2017 - 00:16
In the areas affected by the hurricane, gasoline prices rose even more, but they still remained below the national average. It also forecast oil demand in the Middle East to rise over 2016 levels, as economic momentum gains pace.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Browns rookie Myles Garrett out several weeks with high ankle sprain
Sep 15, 2017 - 00:16
Just 21, Kizer grew up 45 miles from the hometown of Roethlisberger, who has become something of a folk hero in their region. So, with a win Sunday, Roethlisberger would have won more games in Cleveland than any Browns quarterback in almost 20 years.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Odell Beckham Jr. Describes Ankle Injury As 6-8 Week Recovery
Sep 15, 2017 - 00:14
First-round draft pick Evan Engram said the team has gotten the game out of its system and tried to learn. Left tackle Ereck Flowers said any positives that came out of the game were overshadowed by the loss.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Hurricane Jose Churns In Atlantic Between The Bahamas And Bermuda
Sep 15, 2017 - 00:11
As Tropical Storm Jose moves northwestward, north of the Bahamas, two disturbances are drifting westward in the eastern Atlantic. Jose, once a powerful hurricane threatening already devastated Caribbean islands, downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo are getting ready for baby no. 2
Sep 15, 2017 - 00:08
Posting a picture of her growing baby bump, the model announced that she is pregnant again. The 28-year-old South African model is expecting her second child in the coming months.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Pres. Trump in Fla. to Meet With Victims of Hurricane Irma
Sep 15, 2017 - 00:07
The President and the First Lady made two trips to Texas last month in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Scott hasn't decided on a future Senate campaign. "So I hope he runs for the Senate", Trump said.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Florida begins long recovery after Hurricane Irma
Sep 14, 2017 - 00:41
It gradually weakened as it headed through the state, becoming a tropical storm and then a tropical depression on Monday. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Friday it has dispatched additional inspectors to the Turkey Point and St.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Olive Garden brings back pasta pass, on sale Thursday
Sep 14, 2017 - 00:37
That gives those lucky customers an all-inclusive, eight-day trip for two to Italy along with the eight weeks of unlimited pasta. You, your guest, and the other 49 pairs will start in Siena before heading to Florence, Rome, Vatican City, and more.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top 6 dead at Florida nursing home after Irma knocks out power
Sep 14, 2017 - 00:36
He said he's been calling Florida Power & Light for days to get the air conditioning fixed and that there was nothing he could do. Rick Scott said in a statement that he was "heartbroken" to learn of the deaths and he is "going to aggressively demand answers".

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Stephens outlasts Venus to reach US Open final
Sep 13, 2017 - 00:22
Open, will be knocked from her perch as the world's No. 1-ranked player when the new rankings are announced next week. While both finalists have endured their share of injury frustrations, it is Stephens story that surprises most.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Will Hurricane Jose Hit the US?
Sep 13, 2017 - 00:22
Irma registered as a major hurricane for 8.5 days, the second most in the satellite era (since 1966), trailing only Ivan in 2004. But when it came to the west coast of the peninsula, the storm was not as destructive as some had originally feared, Scott said .

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller considered move to Manchester United
Sep 13, 2017 - 00:22
Carlo Ancelotti will quit Bayern Munich in January in order to move to China, claims former midfielder Mario Basler . The Polish striker is unhappy at Bayern's refusal to splash out megabucks in transfer fees like PSG and Barcelona .

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Ladbrokes Coral Group PLC's (LCL) "Buy" Rating Reiterated at Berenberg Bank
Sep 13, 2017 - 00:22
It has outperformed by 15.16% the S&P500.The move comes after 6 months negative chart setup for the $49.74B company. The stock of Ocular Therapeutix Inc (NASDAQ:OCUL) has "Hold" rating given on Tuesday, July 11 by BTIG Research.