These are the last images the Cassini spacecraft sent to Earth
After 13 years of service and more than half a million captured images, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft was consumed by the atmosphere of the planet dubbed as the ‘Lord of the Rings,’ aka Saturn.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft disintegrated in Saturn’s atmosphere this Friday, Sept. 15.
Cassini began its journey as it departed Earth in 1997 and arrived at the solar system’s second largest planet in 2004, beginning what would later become one of the most successful missions in the history of space exploration.
Fifteen minutes before NASA lost contact with the spacecraft, the voice of Dr. Maize was heard in a live stream from mission control telling his team:
‘This might be a good time to pass out the farewell peanuts.’
In its farewell flight, the spacecraft has managed to transmit the latest data and photographs of the planet. The images are outstanding and just show the beauties of the solar system we’ve been missing out.
As it passed through the rings of Saturn, the spaceship managed to snap a series of incredible images.
The broadcasts were received by NASA’s Deep Space Network in Canberra, Australia, and published by the space agency on its official website.
The decision to conclude the Cassini mission was taken by the space agency because the spacecraft was running out of fuel, becoming impossible to steer and would become a wandering spacecraft in space.
The final crash into Saturn was decided to prevent the ship from contaminating its life-potential moons, such as Enceladus and Titan.
In the thirteen years, the spacecraft has spent studying Saturn and its moons, the $4 billion (£3 billion) Cassini probe has transformed our understanding of not only the ringed planet and its moons but the entire solar system.
10 minutes before the expected loss of signal, Cassini was traveling into Saturn’s atmosphere at a speed of around 75,000 miles per hour.
Earl Maize, the program manager for Cassini, announced: ‘The signal from the spacecraft has gone. Congratulations, this has been an incredible mission and incredible spacecraft.’
This image taken by the Cassini spacecraft shows Saturn and its rings before the spacecraft plunged into the planet’s atmosphere. Image Credit NASAThis image of Saturn’s northern hemisphere was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017. It is among the last images Cassini sent back to Earth.This image shows the moon Enceladus and the edge of Saturn as seen from the Cassini spacecraft on its descent towards the planet on Wednesday 13 September 2017. Image Credit NASAA last look at Titan. Image Credit NASA
This image was taken as Cassini flew by Titan one last time before transmitting images and scientific data from the flight. Image Credit NASAOne of the last images beamed back by the Cassini spacecraft as it entered Saturns atmosphere. Image Credit NASAThis is believed to be the final image taken by Cassini. Image Credit: NASA
Seen above is a sequence of the last images taken by the Cassini spacecraft where we can see the moon Enceladus setting behind Saturn. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and https://www.nasa.gov/cassini. The Cassini imaging team homepage is at https://ciclops.org.
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