First craft to orbit Saturn dives into planet at 113,000km/h
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.
Nasa researcher Hunter Waite with a model of