NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Finally Vanishes Into Saturn

The Cassini spacecraft finally disappeared from NASA’s screens Friday, after sending back new data about the composition of the planet Saturn from its 4.9 billion-mile run. The spacecraft was expected to burn up in a blaze and completely disintegrate. Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology celebrated, embraced, and saluted the end of the two-decade-long project. Cassini had been in orbit since 2004 and sent back photographs and data used for a variety of discoveries. “Cassini is really one of those quintessential missions from NASA,” Thomas H. Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, told The New York Times. “It hasn’t just changed what we know about Saturn, but how we think about the world.”