RIP Cassini: A Look Back At the Doomed Probe’s Most Stunning Saturn Pictures

Post 8336

RIP Cassini: A Look Back At the Doomed Probe’s Most Stunning Saturn Pictures

4/04/17 10:37am

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

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 15th, 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.

The orbiter, which launched on October 15th, 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 3,000 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 (December 4th, 2015)

Image: NASA

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

Image: NASA

Spinning vortex on Saturn’s north pole, AKA “The Rose.” (April 29, 2013)

Image: NASA

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

Image: NASA

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

Image: NASA

Saturn’s tiny moon, Pan, AKA the “dumpling moon.” (March 7th, 2017)

Image: NASA

View from within Saturn’s shadow. (February 3rd, 2016)

Image: NASA

Enceladus’ north pole. (October 15th, 2015)

Image: NASA

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

Saturn’s “Death Star” Moon, Mimas. (October 22nd, 2016)

Of course, some rings. (May 23rd, 2005)

Image: NASA

RIP Cassini (1997-2017)

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