Yesterday first artificial satellite of Saturn finished its lasting 20 years mission with destructive landing on Saturn.
Joint mission of NASA, ESA and Italian ASI space agency finally reached its end on Friday September 15, 2017. Cassini space probe launched on 15 October 1997 on the top of the Titan 401B/Centaur rocket crashed into Saturn after 162 targeted flybys of Saturn’s moons at 10:32 UTC. Finish was spectacular – Cassini entered upper atmosphere of Saturn 1900 km over the planet’s surface with speed of 113 000 km/h. Last time before crash Cassini sent telemetry data to 70 m dish of Deep Space Network antenna near Canberra, Australia shortly before its own end.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory which was responsible for controlling Cassini during mission decided to avoid unintentional crash of Cassini with one of ice covered moons of Saturn. Last fuel reserve was used to put space probe on correct orbit between 5 and 12 of September and all the effort was made to precisely hit with probe into Saturn. Scientists are considering as possible that on few moons under ice there is a ocean with possible life forms which could be contaminated with microbes from earth which could remain inside Cassini.
Total cost of main mission (until 2008), first extended mission (2008-2010) and second extended mission (2010-2017) was $40,500,00000. Space probe sent to Earth 635 Gbits of data and discovered Methone, Pallene, Polydeuces, Daphnis, Anthe and Aegaeon moons around Saturn. Scientists also recognize, basing on data gathered by Cassini, that on Enceladus, Titan and Dione it is possible that under ice cover could be not frozen oceans.