Cassini Is Dead; Long Live Cassini

The Saturn probe completes its years-long mission in a fiery descent.

In October 1997, a Titan rocket streaked across the sky and shot a spacecraft called Cassini toward Saturn. The road trip, minus roads, was long, and Cassini didn’t arrive until 2004. But it stayed there till its mission ended on Sept. 15, 2017 — with a bang, and a good deal of whimpering from Earth. Early that morning, engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory sent Cassini down to meet the planet it had spent 13 years studying. The greeting was fatal for Cassini, which …

The full text of this article is available to Discover Magazine subscribers only.

Subscribe and get 10 issues packed with:

  • The latest news, theories and developments in the world of science
  • Compelling stories and breakthroughs in health, medicine and the mind
  • Environmental issues and their relevance to daily life
  • Cutting-edge technology and its impact on our future
Already a subscriber? Register now!

Registration is FREE and takes only a few seconds to complete. If you are already registered on, please log in.