At 4:55 am PDT, NASA's Deep Space Network lost contact with the Cassini spacecraft as it plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn.
This marks the end of a nearly 20-year-long, 4.9 billion mile mission that began aboard a Titan IV rocket in Cape Canaveral on October 15, 1997. After almost seven years of travel, including flybys of Venus, Earth, and Jupiter, Cassini entered orbit around the sixth planet of our Solar System on July 1, 2004, where it remained for over a decade. Earlier this year, Cassini began a series of harrowing dives between Saturn and its majestic rings, culminating today with its destruction in the upper atmosphere of the gas giant. With fuel running low, this method of disposal was selected to minimize the risk of biological contamination of Saturn's moons.
Cassini is responsible for an immense body of knowledge about our Solar System. From tests validating Einstein's theory of general relativity to discovering six new moons orbiting Saturn to landing the Huygens probe on the surface of Titan, the spacecraft has been a workhorse of NASA, ESA, and ASI for many years.
And now she has become one with the planet she so magnificently portrayed.
Sic Itur Ad Astra
Vidéo épique, j’en ai les larmes aux yeux, pour une mission qui a pris de photos splendides : https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/galleries/images/
(le texte ici vient de là).