The Spacecraft Tarot: Cassini

The Wheel of Fortune continuously turns.

The Titan IVB/Centaur carrying the Cassini orbiter and its attached Huygens probe launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on On Oct. 15, 1997. Image Credit: NASA
Cassini captured this view of Saturn’s rings on Aug. 22, 2009. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

However, despite all of Cassini-Hyugen’s revolutionary discoveries, the journey was not always sunshine and roses. The spacecraft pair went through their fair share of challenges — the most notable of which resulted in the Grand Finale, which ultimately ended the Cassini-Hyugen mission.

A natural color view of the last image taken by the imaging cameras on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 14, 2017. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The end of mission could have been viewed as an enormous loss — instead, Cassini’s final moments were memorialized as a bittersweet celebration of a successful adventure into the solar system, punctuated by a final blaze of glory.

This simulated image was constructed from the measured optical depth profiles of the Cassini Division and ring A during the first radio occultation observation of Saturn’s rings on May 3, 2005. Image Credit: NASA/JPL



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