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Science

Goodbye Cassini - the end of NASA's Saturn mission

The space probe Cassini has sent its last signal before hurtling into Saturn's atmosphere. It delivered fascinating pictures and information from the ringed planet for more than a decade.

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Cassini's highlights

At 7:55 a.m. Eastern Time, Cassini's signal was lost when the space probe plunged into Saturn's atmosphere.

It actually stopped sending information a little earlier — the signals are more of an echo as it takes almost 90 minutes for them to reach Earth.

Scientists at Cassini's mission control center in Pasadena, California, hugged and celebrated the end of the almost 20-year mission that, especially toward the end, delivered stunning pictures and discoveries from Saturn and its moons. Over the last months, Cassini completed extremely close flybys and dove between Saturn and its rings 22 times.

The space probe was launched on October 15, 1997 and took almost seven years to arrive in Saturn's vicinity. For around 13 years, it delivered information to an international team of researchers.

The scientists learned that there are geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus that spew water into space, a requisite for extraterrestrial life, and that when it rains on Titan, it rains methane.

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