MAY 07, 2017 09:06 AM PDT
Everything You Need to Know About Cassini's Grand Finale
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The Cassini spacecraft is running out of fuel, and NASA has already started the spacecraft's final mission: The Grand Finale.

During this phase of the spacecraft's life, Cassini will dip in between Saturn and its rings at least 22 times between now and September, after which the spacecraft will dive to its demise into Saturn's atmosphere to avoid possible conflicts with any of Saturn's potentially life-harboring moons.

During these 22 dives, Cassini will grab all of the data it can so scientists can learn more about the planet and its rings. Of particular interest is just how old the rings really are, and to learn more about their mass.

When Cassini dives into Saturn's atmosphere, it will burn up as it's met with high pressures and thick atmospheric gasses. The materials that make up the spacecraft will essentially become a part of the planet as they're pulled to the planet's core by gravity.

This will be the end of Cassini as we know it, but future missions are planned to learn more about Saturn's moons Enceladus and Titan, as they're believed to have sub-surface oceans that might have just the right chemical makeup to support life. On the other hand, those missions won't take place for several more years to come.

Soon, we'll be saying our goodbyes to Saturn, at least for now.

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