In Photos: Cassini Mission Ends with Epic Dive into Saturn

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Cassini’s Grave: Infrared Image

Cassini's Grave: Infrared Image

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This infrared-light image, made from data obtained by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer aboard NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, shows where the probe entered Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, 2017. Cassini captured the image a day earlier, when it was about 394,000 miles (634,000 kilometers) from Saturn.

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Cassini’s Last Photo

Cassini's Last Photo

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This is the last image taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft before it dove into Saturn’s atmosphere. It shows the location where the spacecraft would enter the planet’s atmosphere hours later. Cassini took the photo on Sept. 14, 2017 at 12:59 p.m. PDT (3:59 p.m. EDT; 19:59 GMT).

Cassini’s Final Image in Visible Light” readability=”35″>

Cassini’s Final Image in Visible Light

Cassini’s Final Image in Visible Light

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This monochrome photo — taken on Sept. 14, 2017, at a distance of about 394,000 miles (634,000 kilometers) from Saturn — is the last picture ever snapped by Cassini’s imaging cameras. It shows the spot where, a day later, the spacecraft plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere.

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Enceladus Setting

Enceladus Setting

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Enceladus sets behind Saturn in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017.

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JPL Braces for the Impact

JPL Braces for the Impact

Credit: Calla Cofield/Space.com

In the mission control center at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Cassini team members monitor the spacecraft’s status with the Deep Space Network on Sept. 14, 2017, one day ahead of the mission’s end.

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Cassini Finale JPL

Cassini Finale JPL

Credit: Calla Cofield/Space.com

Members of the Cassini team and other NASA employees watch the final minutes of the Cassini mission, next to a full-scale model of the spacecraft.

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Animation of Cassini’s Crash Course into Saturn

Animation of Cassini's Crash Course into Saturn

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This animation shows Cassini’s final “grand finale” orbits, followed by a distant flyby of Titan that pushed the spacecraft into Saturn (final half orbit, in orange).

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Approaching Saturn

Approaching Saturn

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini took this photo of Saturn on Sept. 14, 2017 at 12:37 p.m. PDT (3:37 p.m. EDT; 1937 GMT), a little over 16 hours before it entered Saturn’s atmosphere.

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NASA’s Deep Space Network Listens for the Signal

NASA's Deep Space Network Listens for the Signal

Credit: Joel Kowsky/NASA

A monitor shows the status of NASA’s Deep Space Network as it receives data from the Cassini spacecraft, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017 in the Charles Elachi Mission Control Center in the Space Flight Operation Center at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

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A View of Saturn’s Atmosphere

A View of Saturn's Atmosphere

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini’s last photos show the location where the spacecraft would plummet into Saturn’s atmosphere. Cassini took this photo of Saturn on Sept. 14, 2017 at 12:46 p.m. PDT (3:45 p.m. EDT; 1946 GMT).

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Getting Closer…

Getting Closer...

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini took this photo of Saturn on Sept. 14, 2017 at 12:54 p.m. PDT (3:54 p.m. EDT; 1954 GMT).

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There Goes Cassini!

There Goes Cassini!

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Watch the signal from Cassini drop in this view of the Deep Sky Network’s monitors during the mission’s grand finale.

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Cassini Mission Comes to an End

Cassini Mission Comes to an End

Credit: Joel Kowski/NASA/UPI/Newscom

The Cassini team cheers, hugs and cries after receiving the final signal from Cassini that indicated the mission had come to an end with the spacecraft’s disintegration in Saturn’s atmosphere.

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Final Photo of Titan

Final Photo of Titan

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This photo of Saturn’s huge moon Titan was captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017.

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Unprocessed Saturn Image

Unprocessed Saturn Image

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This unprocessed image of Saturn is among the final photos taken by the Cassini spacecraft as it headed in for its Grand Finale dive.

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Final Close-Up of Saturn’s Rings

Final Close-Up of Saturn's Rings

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini took this photo of Saturn and its rings on Sept. 14, 2017.

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Farewell, F Ring!

Farewell, F Ring!

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini took this photo of Saturn’s outer F ring on Sept. 14, 2017.

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Underside of Saturn

Underside of Saturn

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This image of Saturn and its rings was taken on Sept. 13, 2017 at 7:32 a.m. PDT (1032 a.m. EDT; 1432 GMT).

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Enceladus

Enceladus

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini imaged Saturn’s geyser-blasting moon Enceladus on Sept. 13, 2017.

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Enceladus

Enceladus

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

This view of Saturn’s moon Enceladus was captured on Sept. 13, 2017 at 8:40 a.m. PDT (11:40 EDT; 1540 GMT).

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Saturn’s Rings

Saturn’s Rings

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini captured this view of Saturn’s rings on Sept. 13, 2017.

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Saturn’s Rings Again

Saturn’s Rings Again

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Another image of Saturn’s rings taken by Cassini on Sept. 13, 2017.

Cassini’s Final Image: Color Version” readability=”32.5″>

Cassini’s Final Image: Color Version

Cassini’s Final Image: Color Version

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

A color version of Cassini’s final visible-light photo, created using images taken with red, green and blue spectral filters.

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