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NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Ends 13-Year Exploration Of Saturn

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On Friday, after 20 years in space and 13 years exploring Saturn, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft burned up in Saturn’s atmosphere. “We’ve had an incredible 13-year journey around Saturn, returning data like a giant firehose,” said Cassini project scientist Linda Spilker. “Almost like we’ve taken a magnifying glass to the planet and the rings.” Cassini lifted off from Cape Canaveral in 1997, reaching Saturn in 2004 and, six months later, discharging its passenger, the European Space Agency’s Huygens lander, to the moon Titan. In April, with Cassini’s fuel depleting, NASA sent it on 22 trips between Saturn and its rings, beginning its final journey, which ended Friday. NASA lost contact with the spacecraft around 7:55 a.m. ET.

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