Farewell to a spacecraft

The Cassini spacecraft with the attached Huygens probe blasted off from Earth in October 1997 from Cape Canaveral in Florida, beginning a journey to Saturn that would take seven years. In 2013, Cassini captured this view of Saturn, its rings, and Ear
False-colour images Cassini took in 2007 showing southern lights dancing above Saturn's south pole. The aurora is shown in green. PHOTO: NASA/JPL/ASI/ UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA/ UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER
The Cassini spacecraft with the attached Huygens probe blasted off from Earth in October 1997 from Cape Canaveral in Florida, beginning a journey to Saturn that would take seven years. In 2013, Cassini captured this view of Saturn, its rings, and Ear
In 2013, Cassini captured this view of Saturn, its rings, and Earth. The white arrow at the bottom right of the picture points to Earth. PHOTO: NASA/ JPL-CALTECH/ SPACE SCIENCE INSTITUTE

Twenty years after take-off, a spacecraft will die today. In 1997, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) launched Cassini to study the gas giant Saturn. In a long-planned move, it will now be torn apart as it enters Saturn's atmosphere, ensuring that it will not drift around the planet uncontrolled. Jose Hong brings you a selection of pictures from the probe's life. To follow Nasa's live updates on Cassini as it plunges to its death, go to https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov


Cassini captured this image of Saturn in 2012, when it swooped into the planet's shadow. The cameras were turned towards Saturn and the Sun so that the gas giant and its rings were lit from the back. The last time Cassini took such a view was in 2006. PHOTO: NASA/ JPL-CALTECH/ SPACE SCIENCE INSTITUTE 


The Cassini spacecraft with the attached Huygens probe blasted off from Earth in October 1997 from Cape Canaveral in Florida, beginning a journey to Saturn that would take seven years.  PHOTO: NASA 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2017, with the headline 'Farewell to a spacecraft'. Print Edition | Subscribe