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Cassini crashes into Saturn

September 18, 2017

The space probe Cassini’s epic mission exploring Saturn is over after it crashed into the giant planet.

Its journey had to come to an end because the probe had run out of fuel. It is just one month before it would have been the 20th anniversary of its launch.

The team behind the Cassini mission at a laboratory in California in America clapped and hugged each other after the final signal was received at 11:55 and 46 seconds.

Saturn is such a long way from Earth, that the probe had actually already been destroyed for 83 minutes by the time this final picture reached Earth.

Many scientists were closely monitoring Cassini’s final plunge to destruction.

It has been on its mission since 1997 when it set off, arriving in orbit around Saturn in 2004. Amongst its many discoveries, Cassini has found new moons orbiting the planet, signs of possible life on existing moons and huge underground oceans spewing fountains of water into space.

In April this year, it started its final challenge which was to dive between the planet and its rings to capture pictures of what it looks like. It completed 22 of these amazing dives.

Below is a list of the statistics from the 20 years it was traveling for.

Commands Executed: 2.5 million

GB of Science Data Collected: 635 GB

Saturn Orbits Completed: 294 at end of mission

Targeted moon flybys: 162

Targeted Titan Flybys: 127

Targeted Enceladus Flybys: 23

Images Taken: 453,048

Main Engine Burns: 183

Oceans Discovered: 2 (Titan, Enceladus)

Titan Seas and Lakes Discovered: 3 seas, hundreds of small lakes

Named Moons Discovered: 6

Science Papers Published: 3,948

Primary mission: 4 years

Two extended missions: Equinox (2008-2010) and Solstice (2010-2017)

Total distance traveled: At Cassini’s end of mission, the spacecraft will have traveled about 4.9 billion miles (7.8 billion kilometers) with respect to the Sun; this distance includes its 2.1 billion-mile (3.4-billion kilometer) interplanetary trajectory from Earth to Saturn. With respect to Saturn, Cassini traveled a total of 1.2 billion miles (1.9 million kilometers) from arrival to end of mission.

Saturn’s average distance from Earth: 890 million miles (1.43 billion kilometers)

One-way speed-of-light time from Saturn to Earth during orbital tour: Varies between 67 and 85 minutes

One-way speed-of-light time from Saturn to Earth at end of mission: 83 minutes

Spacecraft speed at loss of signal (relative to Saturn): 69,368 mph (111,637 kph)

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Chief Editor

About Chief Editor

My name is Shem Banbury. I am the owner and Chief Editor of Kiwi Kids News. By day I am a school teacher and by night a wannabe triathlete.

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1

That's AMAZING! We want to see photos of the water fountains spewing into space!

2

this is really cool

3

Thats a bit cool but worring at the same time

4

they were so close to their 20th anniversary

5

Isn't Saturn made of gas?