Cassini’s end of mission

The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft will fly into Saturn tonight (about midnight NZ time). Final data will be received about 83 minutes after it stops transmitting (radio waves travel at the speed of light).

Cassini is being crashed so there is not risk of colliding with any of Saturn’s moons after it runs out of fuel.

Cassini was launched twenty years ago, on 15 October 1997. After two fly buys of Venus and a flyby of Earth and our Moon Cassini headed off out into the Solar System.

It entered orbit around Saturn in July 2004. An orbiter landed on the moon Total a year later.

The primary mission was scheduled to complete in 2008 but it was extended and extended again until this year.

Sept. 13, 2017 (2:15 p.m. PDT)

Cassini is on final approach to Saturn, following confirmation by mission navigators that it is on course to dive into the planet’s atmosphere on Sept. 15. The mission’s final calculations predict a signal will be received on Earth indicating loss of contact with the Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 15 is 4:55 a.m. PDT (7:55 a.m. EDT).

More details

NASA: projected times for the end of mission


Earth as seen from near Saturn.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Links from NASA:

  • What did we learn about Saturn during our 13 year tour? Lots.
  • Explore Cassini’s rich history of discovery in our Timeline.
  • Take a tour of our Greatest Images. 
  • Spend some time browsing the latest Raw Images straight from Saturn.
  • Explore Cassini’s rich history of discovery in our Timeline.

1 Comment

  1. Gezza

     /  September 15, 2017

    Wow, PG. Just wow! We live in an awesome universe! And we’re explorers! If only we could all just along better 😀

    I’m writing a children’s nature book, by email, in chapters, for Posuum’s mokos. About my stream & its residents. So I’m not stopping here tonite. Hope Corky hasn’t been running rampant. 😳 😀