Cassini, NASA's 13-year Saturn mission, has ended

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

Cassini was set on a course to plunge through Saturn's atmosphere and vaporize like a meteor Friday morning.

After 20 years in space, NASA's famed Cassini spacecraft made its final death plunge into Saturn on Friday, ending a storied mission that scientists say taught us almost everything we know about Saturn today and transformed the way we think about life elsewhere in the solar system.

Nasa's Saturn probe Cassini is ending its twenty year mission by plummeting into the atmosphere of the second-biggest planet in the solar system and burning up in its atmosphere. It revealed the best in us.

On its final orbit, Cassini will plunge into Saturn's atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour, sending back new and unique science to the very end.

The spacecraft's fateful dive is the final beat in the mission's Grand Finale, 22 weekly dives, which began in late April, through the gap between Saturn and its rings. This book discovers the topmost 100 images explorers the spectacular moons and the ringed planet. Even if NASA funds a new Saturn mission in 2019, that spacecraft would launch in 2024 - then it'd take years to make the trip. NASA predicts that it will lose contact with Cassini at 7:55 AM ET, about 930 miles above Saturn's clouds.

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The spacecraft's final radio communications will be sent to the CSIRO's Deep Space centre, located outside Canberra.

The spacecraft's explosive end was about more than simply alien health and safety however - with Cassini project scientist Dr Linda Spilker excited about what can be learned from the probes final transmissions.

When Cassini was launched in 1997, we knew of 18 Saturnian moons. Scientists feared the craft would collide with Titan or Enceladus, two of Saturn's moons, that have in the past 10 years shown a potential to host life.

Cassini snapped its "last memento photos" of the Saturn system Thursday. During its journey, Cassini has made numerous dramatic discoveries. Cassini snapped over 450,000 images during its 20-year voyage. The change is allowing Cassini to give planetary researchers the most detailed data ever on Saturn's atmosphere. "We'll smile. And we'll want to go back", the U.S. space agency said.

Professor John Zarnecki, the President of the Royal Astronomical Society, led one of the 6 instrument teams on Huygens, as it made its successful landing on Saturn's largest moon Titan in 2005 - the first time a spacecraft had touched down on a world in the outer Solar System.

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