Aussie space centre captures Cassini's end

The space agency said Thursday it expects Cassini to plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on Friday to end its 13-year mission around the planet and prevent collision with Saturn's moons Titan and Enceladus.

Roughly 14 hours later, the spacecraft will fly into the planet's atmosphere at 76,000 mph, lighting up like a meteor. That's because scientists have been able to "pursue questions that we never thought Cassini would have the opportunity to answer", he said.

No trace of Cassini is expected to escape Saturn's gravity field.

NASA launched Cassini toward Saturn in 1997.

Other Cassini stamps were issued in the Maldives, Guinea and Togo, the latter two to mark the mission's tenth year at Saturn in 2014. Saturn has been Cassini's home for the last 13 years.

"There's a gentleman on the mission named Dave Doody and he actually built [a paper model] and it's online, so you can go print it out for free and build your own Cassini".

In the final three hours or so before impact on Friday all data acquired by the spacecraft will be relayed straight to Earth, bypassing the onboard solid state memory.

September 15, 9:30 a.m. EDT (6:30 a.m. PDT, 1:30 p.m. GMT, 3:30 p.m. CEST): Cassini post-mission news conference from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The discovery sealed Cassini's fate.

Cassini is in the process of taking its final pictures of the Saturnian system.

US Spacecraft Cassini Readies for Fiery Plunge Into Saturn After 13-Year Mission

To study Saturn and its moons up close. We know Saturn had to capture these gases during its early evolution, and more exact measurements of the ratio of the lighter gas to the heavier gas will give us a much better understanding of how this happened. As "Cassini Ace", or person on point, Staab is one of the engineers who monitor and communicate with the spacecraft from the mission control room at JPL. While Voyager was 1970s technology, Cassini is '90s technology. Still, the 5,000-pound Cassini, dubbed Battlestar Galactica by another expert on the documentary for all the scientific instruments it contains, also added to our knowledge of Saturn's many moons, which range in size from larger than the planet Mercury to the size of a sports arena. Scientists wanted one last look to see if Peggy had broken free of its ring.

"Cassini first saw geysers erupting from the south polar region", said Adler Planetarium astronomer Mark Hammergren. A smaller probe, Huygens, also landed on the surface of Titan.

Enceladus is one of Saturn's more fascinating moons, covered in a thick layer of ice.

Milestones in Cassini's final dive toward Saturn in September 2017.

"Some of our key science goals during the Grand Finale are trying to understand Saturn from the inside out, to figure out the length of a Saturn day and to determine the mass of the rings and the composition of Saturn's atmosphere", Spilker said.

The probe, which is now out of fuel, will plunge into Saturn's atmosphere, burn up and disintegrate.

By destroying Cassini, NASA ensures that spacecraft doesn't inadvertently contaminate either moon with microbes carried billions of miles from Earth.

On Monday, the craft made a flyby of Titan that slowed it down enough to direct it toward Saturn rather than through the furthest reaches of its atmosphere, as it has been doing.

Live-streaming like the McGregor v Mayweather fight?

And surely that will continue with its final dive, she said.

When did Cassini launch and why is it ending now?

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