Saturday, September 9th I received the following message from Carolyn Porco, Imaging Team Leader on the Cassini mission at Saturn:
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
Yesterday, Cassini’s final dive through the ring plane of Saturn, the last of 22, completed successfully. We are now climbing out of the gravitational well of Saturn for the last time, on our way towards Titan. There, the craft will experience an orbit adjustment that will put it on a course for disintegration in the Saturn atmosphere 5.5 days from now.
The head is filled with many thoughts and memories now, facing the moment when it will all be over.
This is the last lap, the grand finale
Indeed, on Friday, 15 September at approximately 6:30 am EDT, the Cassini spacecraft will burn up in Saturn’s upper atmosphere.
The spacecraft is running out of fuel and, rather than allowing it to drift through the Saturnian system and possibly pollute the environments on any of the ringed planet’s over 60 moons, particularily Enceladus and Titan, the Cassini team decided to have it dive into the planet and burn up.
The Cassini spacecraft was launched in 1997 and has been orbiting and conducting its research at Saturn since 2004.
Read more here: Cassini The Grand Finale