Cassini had spent two decades in orbit around Saturn, leading to many scientific breakthroughs, but on Sept. 15 it all came to an end.
After two decades in the great beyond, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has finally met her end. NASA has lost contact with Cassini after it plunged beneath Saturn’s toxic clouds, ending an incredible mission that began in the 1990s and led to a ton of scientific breakthroughs.
The spacecraft was deliberately sent plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere at high speed, where it met its end at 6:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday. The final signal and the last pieces of data came about an hour and a half later to the Deep Space Network’s Canberra Station in Australia, and NASA confirmed Cassini’s death at 7:55 a.m.
Cassini was able to fire off some last bits of data on the planet’s composition as long as its antenna was pointed at Earth. But eventually the heat and intense pressure on the gas giant crushed and burned the spacecraft into nothingness. Fittingly, Cassini is now a small piece of Saturn.