In this video, Robert Picardo eulogizes the Cassini mission with a unique version of the Le Cassini Opera.

The Cassini spacecraft and its attached Huygens probe were launched on October 15, 1997. On arriving at Saturn on July 1, 2004, the spacecraft started its 13 year-long mission to study and photograph Saturn and its moons.

On January 14, 2005, the Huygens probe (built by the European Space Agency) detached and soft-landed on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, sending back images and data during its landing. The photos it sent back were the first images of lakes of hydrocarbons on any moon's surface.

The Cassini mission has produced a huge amount of information about the Saturnian system, but the spacecraft is just about run out of fuel.

So, in order to prevent it crash landing on one of Saturn's moon's sometime in the future, and possibly contaminating it with microbes from Earth, it was decided to redirect Cassini into Saturn's atmosphere where it would burn up.

But, during this final phase of its mission, it will still be returning data until its demise. Cassini's fiery death plunge is due to occur just 2 days from now - Sept. 15th, 2017.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a page dedicated to the mission and this final phase of it here.

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