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Cassini spacecraft’s final mission is crash course with Saturn

Published: Friday, September 08, 2017 @ 3:30 PM
By: Jared Leone, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

The Cassini spacecraft was sent into space to explore Saturn, its rings and moons nearly 20 years ago. 

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The spacecraft spent 13 years orbiting the planet and is running low on fuel. Mission operators would no longer be able to control the spacecraft if it runs out. 

For its last mission, dubbed The Grand Finale by NASA, the $3.26 billion spacecraft is being sent between Saturn’s rings before it crashes into the planet Sept. 15. 

Reports sent from Cassini have indicated the potential to contain habitable, or prebiotic, environments on Enceladus and Titan, two of Saturn’s moons. 

It first entered Saturn’s orbit June 30, 2004. After its initial four-year mission, Cassini was extended two more times. Its key discoveries were the ocean-bearing moon on Enceladus and the liquid methane seas on Titan.

During its final flight, it will still gather and send information for as long as its antennae are pointed at Earth.