It was an emotional finale for space scientists as NASA's Cassini spacecraft ended its mission with a crash into Saturn on Friday, ending its 13-year orbit of the planet. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. space agency NASA's Cassini spacecraft ended its groundbreaking 13-year mission to Saturn on Friday (September 15) with a meteor-like plunge into the ringed planet's atmosphere. Cassini, the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn, lost contact with Earth at 7:57 a.m. EDT (1157 GMT) shortly after it entered the gas giant's crushing atmosphere at about 70,000 miles per hour (113,000 km per hour), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said. Cassini's final transmissions were expected to include unprecedented data from the atmosphere's upper fringe about 1,190 miles (1,915 km) above Saturn's cloud tops. The data will take 86 minutes to reach NASA antennas in Canberra, Australia. Cassini's final dive will end a mission that gave scientists a ringside seat to the sixth planet from the Sun. The craft's discoveries included seasonal changes on Saturn, a hexagon-shaped pattern on the north pole and the moon Titan's resemblance to a primordial Earth.