NASA will bid farewell to its history-making Cassini spacecraft, which has been studying Saturn for more than a dozen years and is slated to self-destruct in a “grand finale” on the planet early Friday.
Since 2004, the Cassini spacecraft has been orbiting Saturn and snapping groundbreaking photos of the planet’s rings and moons. The mission has given scientists their closest look at the mysterious planet. “No spacecraft has ever ventured so close to the planet before,” NASA said in a news release.
But because it has been running low on fuel, NASA decided to end its mission by allowing the spacecraft to plunge into Saturn’s upper atmosphere at 70,000 mph. Doing so will help preserve Saturn’s moons for future space exploration, according to NASA.
Scientists believe the spacecraft will lose its signal shortly before 8 a.m. EDT. During its coverage, NASA will stream live feeds from mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., where scientists will be receiving Cassini’s final photos. NASA also plans to host a news conference after the grand finale.
Space enthusiasts can watch the Cassini spacecraft’s final descent via the live stream above, starting 7 a.m. EDT on Friday.