Cassini Spacecraft Ends 20-Year Mission

Aidan Khelil, Writer

The Cassini Spacecraft, launched in 1997, ended its mission recently by diving into the atmosphere of the gas giant planet Saturn.

The spacecraft had been orbiting the planet since 2004. It was sent to Saturn to provide information on its ring system, moons, and atmosphere. Some questions about the planet, however, remain unanswered. These include queries like the length of Saturn’s day and details about the planet’s magnetic field.

Cassini began its descent in April, and it completed its final dive on Friday, September 15th, 2017. It fell at about 77,000 miles per hour, surviving for 30 seconds longer than expected. On its descent, it sampled the atmosphere of the planet, with the data arriving at Earth 83 minutes afterward due the vast distance between the two planets.

The end of the Cassini mission is heartbreaking for some who worked on the project their entire adult lives, but even they admit the spacecraft went above and beyond its original mission.

Amazingly, Cassini had minimal issues throughout the entire mission, making some who worked on it laud it as “the perfect spacecraft.”