First craft to or­bit Saturn dives into planet at 113,000km/h

The Irish Times - - Home News -

Nasa re­ceived a fi­nal sig­nal from its Cassini space­craft yes­ter­day as it ended a ground­break­ing, 13-year Saturn mis­sion with a me­teor-like plunge into the ringed planet’s at­mos­phere.

Cassini, the first space­craft to or­bit Saturn, en­tered the gaseous gi­ant’s crushing at­mos­phere at 12.55pm yes­ter­day at about 113,000 km per hour.

“This morn­ing a lone ex­plorer – a ma­chine made by hu­mankind – fin­ished its mis­sion 900 mil­lion miles away,” Cassini project man­ager Earl Maize said. “We be­lieve we got ev­ery last sec­ond of data.” The end of Cassini’s voy­age, which be­gan with its launch in 1997 and a seven-year jour­ney to Saturn, was met with ap­plause, hugs and tears from Nasa of­fi­cials af­ter its fi­nal trans­mis­sion was re­ceived.

Cassini

Nasa re­searcher Hunter Waite with a model of

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