The Cassini spacecraft plunged into Saturn Friday (Sept. 15), ending its historic 13-year study of the ringed planet and its moons. NASA TV is streaming replays of amazing Saturn discoveries by the historic mission to the ringed planet. Our Main Story: RIP, Cassini: Historic Mission Ends with Fiery Plunge into Saturn
Complete Coverage: Cassini's Saturn Crash 2017: A 'Grand Finale' at the Ringed Planet
360-degree View Inside Cassini's Mission Control at NASA's JPL
Cassini Post-End of Mission News Conference
"On Sept. 15, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will complete its remarkable story of exploration with an intentional plunge into Saturn's atmosphere, ending its mission after nearly 20 years in space. News briefings, photo opportunities and other media events will be held at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website.
"Launched in 1997, Cassini arrived in orbit around Saturn in 2004 on a mission to study the giant planet, its rings, moons and magnetosphere. In April of this year, Cassini began the final phase of its mission, called its Grand Finale -- a daring series of 22 weekly dives between the planet and its rings. On Sept. 15, Cassini will plunge into Saturn, sending new and unique science about the planet's upper atmosphere to the very end. After losing contact with Earth, the spacecraft will burn up like a meteor. This is the first time a spacecraft has explored this unique region of Saturn -- a dramatic conclusion to a mission that has revealed so much about the ringed planet.
"Cassini flight controllers will monitor the spacecraft's final transmissions from JPL Mission Control."
SpaceX Dragon Departs the International Space Station
A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station early Sunday morning (Sept. 17). The spacecraft returned to Earth with more than 3,800 lbs. (1,700 kilograms) of science experiments and other equipment. [Full Story: SpaceX Dragon Cargo Craft Splashes Down in Pacific Ocean]
NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik and the European Space Agency's Paolo Nespoli used one of the space station's robotic arms to release the Dragon from the Harmony module at about 4:47 a.m. EDT (0847 GMT). After a 5.5-hour journey, the Dragon plunged into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja, California.
"After delivering more than 6,400 pounds of cargo, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft will depart the International Space Station on Sunday, Sept. 17. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of Dragon's departure beginning at 4:30 a.m. EDT.
"Flight controllers will use the space station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to detach Dragon, which arrived Aug. 16, from the Earth-facing side of the station's Harmony module. After Dragon is maneuvered into place, the spacecraft will be released by Expedition 53 Flight Engineer Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) with the assistance of station Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA at 4:47 a.m.
"Dragon’s thrusters will be fired to move the spacecraft a safe distance from the station before SpaceX flight controllers in Hawthorne, California, command its deorbit burn. The spacecraft will splash down at about 10:16 a.m. in the Pacific Ocean, where recovery forces will retrieve Dragon and approximately 3,800 pounds of cargo. This will include science samples from human and animal research, biology and biotechnology studies, physical science investigations and education activities. The deorbit burn and splashdown will not be broadcast on NASA TV.
"NASA and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization that manages research aboard the U.S. national laboratory portion of the space station, will receive time-sensitive samples and begin working with researchers to process and distribute them within 48 hours of splashdown.
"In the event of adverse weather conditions in the Pacific, the backup departure and splashdown date is Sept. 20.
"Dragon, the only space station resupply spacecraft currently able to return to Earth intact, launched Aug. 14 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, for the company’s 12th NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission to the station."