Cassini’s memorable journey… and life about to end shortly, with a death plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere.
As this AstronomyHubble correspondent is writing this article, NASA scientists are preparing to destroy its very own Cassini space probe via a spectacular dive into Saturn’s atmosphere. The event will take place on Friday as the 22ft robot spacecraft shatters into tiny fragments and burns off. Cassini will hurtle into the ringed planet’s cloud tops, ending a 20-year mission that cost billions of dollars.
Cassini was launched in 1997 and took seven years to travel two billion miles to Saturn, before embarking on a 13-year journey of discovery that delivered a wealth of scientific data on the planet and its moons.
After a 20 years duel with the Cosmic forces both know and unknown to mankind, the battle wary spacecraft is running out of fuel. This will render it to become impossible to steer. This is why controllers have chosen to bring the mission to a fiery end on the 15th of September, 2017 which is a day and 3 hours from now when this article is being written.
Scientists will lose contact with the probe just before that, as Cassini gets entrapped in Saturn’s atmosphere and starts to tumble, causing its dish antenna to lose sight of Earth. It will be roughly 930 miles above the planet’s cloud tops when this happens. Thereafter, Cassini will start to burn like a meteor and tear apart. Within two minutes of signal loss the probe will be completely consumed. Goodbye Cassini and thank you for your herculean work for 20 years – a big salute and Rest in Peace.