Cassini in mission's final week


"Cassini has been in a long-term relationship with Titan, with a new rendezvous almost every month for more than a decade", Cassini Project Manager Earl Maize of NASA said in a statement.

As it descends onto the planet, at around 940 miles (1,510 kilometres) above Saturn's cloud tops, communication with Earth will cease, and the spacecraft will break up like a meteor moments later.

Not just Saturn and its rings, NASA's Cassini spacecraft also made in-depth plunges and manoeuvres to provide insights into the planet's moons - Titan and Enceladus - too.

The phrase relates to Titan's gravity pushing the craft toward its final mission - a dive straight into Saturn's atmosphere.

Nearly everything we know today about the lovely giant ringed planet comes from Cassini, the NASA mission that launched in 1997 and arrived at Saturn in 2004.

Little was known about the moon before the spacecraft sent the small Huygens robot to its surface in 2005.

Scientists think both moons may be capable of supporting life. Join NASA engineers for the tense and triumphant moments as they find out if their gambit has paid off, and discover the wonders that Cassini has revealed over the years. Cassini will transmit as much data as possible before it burns up.

In fact, Saturn icy moon, one of the Cassini biggest revelations includes unveiling Enceladus and the fact that it has numerous components needed for life. The spacecraft's fateful dive is the final beat in the mission's Grand Finale, 22 weekly dives (begun in late April) through the gap between Saturn and its rings.

Cassini's discoveries completely rewrote our understanding of the remarkably Earth-like world of Titan; before 2004 all we knew was the moon had a thick atmosphere. Titan also has lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbons on its surface.

One day before impacting Saturn, Cassini will conduct high-resolution observations of the planet's temperature, auroras, and vortices, take closeup images of the north pole hexagonal jet stream, and image Titan and Enceladus.