Cassini spacecraft reaches the end of its life exploring Saturn

Scientists said goodbye to the 20-year-old Cassini spacecraft Friday morning.

Extending its life nearly a decade more than planned, Cassini was sent out in 1997 to explore Saturn.

The probe just recently ran out of fuel.

When it was first launched, NASA couldn’t possibly imagine what the probe would reveal.

It brought forth breathtaking pictures of Jupiter, the night side of Saturn and intense hurricanes on the planet’s surface.

It also completed 293 orbits around Saturn, discovered at least seven new moons and descended into Saturn’s iconic rings.

It was the first spacecraft to plunge between the planet’s rings four months ago.

“Those details in the rings, those tiny moons snuggled in so close, those are all gone until we go back,” Cassini Project Scientist Linda Spiker said.

Scientists are also very excited about two of Saturn’s icy moons revealing rivers and seas.

“It shows the potential for the existence of life,” Cassini Team Lead Hunter Waite said.

NASA says the spacecraft has offered a treasure of data that could answer many questions about our galaxy.

But scientists are calling it a bittersweet ending.

“It felt like we were losing a friend,” Spiker said.

It took nearly seven years for Cassini to reach Saturn.

When it broke up Friday morning, it was traveling more than 75,000 miles per hour.

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