The 13-year-old spacecraft sends us its final
photographs of the rings and Titan moon,
as it is steered toward Saturn’s surface.
At 76,000 mph, the atmosphere will tear
it apart and vaporize this celestial explorer.
Cassini–Huygens, or more commonly, Cassini, was a Flagship-class unmanned robotic spacecraft which was planned, built, launched, and operated in collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency, and was sent to the planet Saturn. Cassini was the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter its orbit. It studied the planet and its many natural satellites from when it entered orbit in 2004 to when it began its final, suicide descent in September 2017.
The spacecraft was steered to its death when its fuel had been expended so that it would not crash into one of Saturn’s moons and possibly contaminate it with materials from Earth.
Giovanni Domenico Cassini (8 June 1625 – 14 September 1712) was an Italian mathematician, astronomer, astrologer and engineer who discovered four satellites of the planet Saturn and noted the division of the rings of Saturn.