The final chapter in a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery, Cassini's Grand Finale is in many ways like a brand new mission. Twenty-two times, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will dive through the unexplored space between Saturn and its rings. What we learn from these ultra-close passes over the planet could be some of the most exciting revelations ever returned by the long-lived spacecraft. This animated video tells the story of Cassini's final, daring assignment and looks back at what the mission has accomplished.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been observing Saturn since 2004, but mission control has been careful not to get close to the ringed planet for fear of damaging the probe. Now, Cassini is nearly out of fuel, and it’s time to take some risks. Cassini began altering its trajectory early this week for the “Grand Finale,” a series of orbits that will take the spacecraft closer to Saturn than ever before.
A pockmarked, icy landscape looms beneath NASA's Cassini spacecraft in new images of Saturn's moon Dione taken during the mission's last close approach to the small, icy world. Two of the new images show the surface of Dione at the best resolution ever.
Cassini passed 295 miles (474 kilometers) above Dione's surface at 11:33 a.m. PDT (2:33 p.m. EDT) on Aug. 17.