RIP Cassini: The internet’s feeling the loss after space probe burns on suicide dive into Saturn

Pioneering Saturn probe Cassini plunged to destruction into the planet’s atmosphere, bringing an end to an exploration that lasted 20 years.

Nasa scientists planned the spectacular suicide dive to end the £2.9 billion mission and, at 12.55pm UK time, radio contact with the 22ft long nuclear-powered probe was lost.

Plummeting at 77,000mph, in seconds it disintegrated into fragments and burned up.

Mission controllers at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, clapped and hugged each other when the signal loss was confirmed.

Project manager Earl Maize said: “Congratulations to you all. This has been an incredible mission… you’re all an incredible team.”

Meanwhile, people from all walks of life – from astronomers and those part of the scientific community to space enthusiasts – paid tributes to the spacecraft that sent us close to 450,000 images, discovered six named moons and helped us publish close to 4,000 scientific papers.

Screenshots of Cassini’s last signal circulated on social media.

Cakes were baked in loving memory.

Artists took to social media with illustrated tributes.

After launching in October 1997, Cassini travelled two billion miles to Saturn in a seven-year journey. Its mission came to an end after it ran out of fuel.

RIP Cassini. You live through your achievements.


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