Thu Apr 6, 2017 8:11AM
A sketch of Cassini orbiter probe 1 running rings around Saturn space spacecraft.
A sketch of Cassini orbiter probe 1 running rings around Saturn space spacecraft.

NASA is preparing for the grand finale of its probe Cassini that will have the spacecraft crash into Saturn.

The US space agency’s scientists gathered Tuesday to help usher in the final chapter of spacecraft Cassini scheduled for April 26. The probe is set to make a series of dives through the unexplored gap between Saturn and its rings.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn's shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings — and, in the background, Earth. ©NASA

The spacecraft will be travelling through dust and flying debris at an astounding speed of over 110,000 kilometers per hour. Cassini will then crash into the solar system's second largest planet to end its 20-year mission. NASA hopes this pioneering attempt will shed more light on the planet's internal structure and origin of its rings. 

Saturn's largest and gaseous moon, Titan, from NASA's spacecraft Cassini.

Cassini’s self-destruction will take place following data collection on September 15th. The method was chosen to protect Saturn’s moons from possible biological contamination. This is particularly important, since natural satellites are believed to be potentially habitable and may one day host mankind.