US space agency NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is all set to bid goodbye after orbiting the gas giant for over 13 years. On Sept. 15, Cassini will conduct its "Death Dive to Saturn", and burn up in its upper atmosphere.
With $3.3 billion mission launched in 1997, Cassini arrived in orbit around Saturn in 2004 on a mission to study the giant planet, its rings, moons and magnetosphere.
"The Cassini mission has been packed full of scientific firsts, and our unique planetary revelations will continue to the very end of the mission as Cassini becomes Saturn’s first planetary probe, sampling Saturn's atmosphere up until the last second", said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "We'll be sending data in near real time as we rush headlong into the atmosphere -- it's truly a first-of-its-kind event at Saturn."
Throughout its time period of documentation of the ringed planet, Cassini has managed to discover unexplored areas and offer a never-before-seen look into the gas giant.
On September 11, NASA will use Titan gravitational force to pave way for Cassini into the gas giant. Spacecraft's seven science instruments will be turned on and report measurements in near real time, until it finally breaks apart after plunging into Saturn's atmosphere.
The stream of scientific mysteries will begin drawing to a close Sept. 14, when Cassini sends its last images to Earth. At 4:37 am ET on Sept. 15, the ship will begin what NASA calls “the final plunge.”