NOTE: This post was updated on the morning of September 15th, see new videos below.
NASA is always up to something fascinating. There are so many milestones and discoveries, it’s hard to resist featuring them in every post. However, there are a few events that definitely deserve special attention right now.
First, August 20th and September 5th marked the 40th anniversary of the launches of the Voyager Spacecraft (JPL, Wikipedia). Here’s a video from the New York Times about the hearty twin explorer’s accomplishments.
Of course, the best part is that the Voyager’s aren’t done. They are scheduled to continue sending back information about the far reaches of the Solar System for more than a decade to come. NASA/JPL has a page set up so you can keep track of where they are now.
While the Voyager’s Anniversaries were special events, that’s not even the most important story right now. That’s because this week will also mark the end of Cassini’s spectacularly successful mission to Saturn. This Friday, September 15th, the spacecraft will deliberately plunge to its death in the clouds of Saturn to prevent it from contaminating any of Saturn’s moons.
This 360° video describes Cassini’s “Grand Finale” and the mission’s accomplishments.
Here’s a more recent 2 minute video released by NASA/JPL on September 8th about the conclusion of the mission.
Cassini’s final entry into Saturn’s atmosphere will begin Friday at 6:31 a.m. EDT (3:31 a.m. PDT) and the final signal will be received on Earth at 7:55 a.m. EDT (4:55 a.m. PDT). Then there will be a post-mission news conference at JPL (9:30 a.m. EDT, 6:30 PDT on NASA TV).
Here are some nice videos of the “Grand Finale” published today.
Here is a 360° Video broadcast from Mission Control of Cassini’s final hours — you can skip around to see different parts of the full broadcast.
Note: Cassini is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (the European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.