NASA JET PROPULSION LABORATORY,EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA JET PROPULSION LABORATORY,EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
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Computer illustration of the Cassini orbiter crossing Saturn's ring plane. The joint NASA-ESA Cassini-Huygens spacecraft was launched in 1997 and took seven years to reach Saturn and its moons. The Huygens probe separated from Cassini on 25th December 2004, and descended to the surface of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. The Cassini orbiter continued orbiting Saturn; studying its atmosphere and rings and performing flybys of its moons. The mission will come to an end in September 2017 when the probe will be plunged into Saturn's atmosphere to burn up. This end was chosen to prevent contamination of Saturn's moons.
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