Cassini probe incinerates on entry to Saturn

Cassini probe incinerates on entry to Saturn

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The American-led Cassini space mission to Saturn has just come to a spectacular end. Controllers had commanded the probe to destroy itself by plunging into the planet’s atmosphere.
It survived for about a minute before being broken apart.
Cassini had run out of fuel and Nasa had determined that the probe should not be allowed to simply wander uncontrolled among Saturn and its moons.

The loss of signal from the spacecraft occurred right on cue. Here at mission control, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, this drop-off was timed at 05:55 PDT (11:55 GMT; 12:55 BST).
Nasa’s Earl Maize addressed fellow controllers: “Congratulations to you all. This has been an incredible mission, an incredible spacecraft and you’re all an incredible team. I’m going to call this end of mission. Project manager off the net.”
The statement brought restrained applause and some comforting embraces.
The loss of signal indicated that the probe was tumbling wildly in the planet’s gases. It could have survived the violence for no more than about 45 seconds before being torn to pieces. -BBC

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