Jan 23, 2019 | Updated: 10:56 AM EST

Cassini Prepares For Its Grand Finale As It Dives Between Saturn & Its Rings

Apr 28, 2017 05:37 PM EDT


NASA spacecraft Cassini prepares for the grand finale of its mission as it successfully dove between Saturn and its ring on Wednesday. The probe will end its mission by landing on the surface of Saturn.

Cassini project scientist of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Linda Spilker announced on Wednesday, April 26 that the space probe has successfully navigated through the narrow gap between Saturn and its ring. Subsequently, Cassini is now preparing for its grand finale to end its mission by the end of this year.

The mission control of Cassini has received the signal from Cassini on April 26 at 11:56 p.m. PDT according to the official release from NASA. Cassini has beamed back its science and engineering data collected to mission control at the NASA Deep Space Network Goldstone Complex in Mojave Desert, California. The spacecraft is ready to end its mission on Sept. 15, 2017 by entering the Saturn atmosphere and landed on the planet.

"No spacecraft has ever been this close to Saturn before," Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize said at the of NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "I am delighted to report that Cassini shot through the gap just as we planned and has come out the other side in excellent shape."

After twenty years in space, Cassini has sent a lot of useful scientific and engineering data to Earth. In preparation to its mission's grand finale, NASA took extra precaution of the first dive between the rings and the planet, as reported by Express. The successful dive has paved the way for Cassini to end its mission gracefully

Cassini was launched on Oct. 15, 1997, and seven years later it arrived at Saturn. The spacecraft entered the orbit of Saturn on June 30, 2004, and sent the Huygen probe into the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. Since then, Cassini sent thousands of pictures and footage to NASA's mission control, giving a closer look at Saturn and its moon.

Now, the spacecraft is orbiting Saturn before its grand finale on Sept. 15, 2017. Watch the footage of its journey from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory below:

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