You won't believe what NASA did

Hannah Hurst, Staff Writer

This digitally created image shows NASA's probe Cassini flying high over Saturn.  Photo courtesy of NASA.

This digitally created image shows NASA's probe Cassini flying high over Saturn.

Photo courtesy of NASA.

With a mission called “The Grand Finale” on September 15, 2017, NASA sent its space probe Cassini crashing into Saturn’s orbit…on purpose. Cassini had used almost all of its fuel supply and with no place left to go, scientists decided the best course of action was to blow it up. Under normal circumstances, NASA would have just left the billion dollar probe on a nearby moon, but since scientist know so little about Saturn's moons, they wanted to be extra careful in preserving the moons' natural state for future studies.

NASA joined forces with ESA (the European Space Agency) originally sending Cassini shooting into space at 1,006 miles per hour with hopes of landing it on Saturn’s moon Titan in 1977. Cassini completed its mission and moved on to later become the first and only probe sent by NASA to successfully orbit Saturn. Since then, its been sending data from Saturn back to Earth, almost 746 million miles away. 

In loving memory of Cassini, enjoy these top 10 photographs taken during its 20-year long journey. All photographs courtesy of NASA.

1.  “So Far From Home”   Cassini captured this breathtaking picture of Saturn and its rings on Oct. 28, 2016.

1. “So Far From Home”

Cassini captured this breathtaking picture of Saturn and its rings on Oct. 28, 2016.

2.  “The Dew Drop of Saturn”   A tiny white spec compared to Saturn, Enceladus is the planet’s 6th largest moon.

2. “The Dew Drop of Saturn”

A tiny white spec compared to Saturn, Enceladus is the planet’s 6th largest moon.

3.  “Top of the World”   In this picture clouds swirl over Saturn’s North Pole.

3. “Top of the World”

In this picture clouds swirl over Saturn’s North Pole.

4.  “Saturn-lit Tethys”   The sun beautifully reflects off Tethys' rings, another one of Saturn's moons.

4. “Saturn-lit Tethys”

The sun beautifully reflects off Tethys' rings, another one of Saturn's moons.

5.  “Nevertheless, It Moves”   An up-close look at Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.

5. “Nevertheless, It Moves”

An up-close look at Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.

6.  “Tiny Mimas”   Mima, characterized by its covering in ice, rests beneath Saturn’s rings.

6. “Tiny Mimas”

Mima, characterized by its covering in ice, rests beneath Saturn’s rings.

7.  “Highlighting Titan’s Hazes”   Backlit by the sun, Titan’s high atmosphere appears blue.

7. “Highlighting Titan’s Hazes”

Backlit by the sun, Titan’s high atmosphere appears blue.

8.  “Finale Ringscape”   Cassini captured this image of Saturn’s stunning rings on Sept. 13, 2017.

8. “Finale Ringscape”

Cassini captured this image of Saturn’s stunning rings on Sept. 13, 2017.

9.  “Farewell to Lapetus”   Given the nickname “Saturn’s yin-and-yang moon,” Lapetus appears strangely light on one side and dark on the other.

9. “Farewell to Lapetus”

Given the nickname “Saturn’s yin-and-yang moon,” Lapetus appears strangely light on one side and dark on the other.

10.  “Dreamy Swirls on Saturn”   This digitally colorized photograph beautifully defines clouds on Saturn’s northern hemisphere.

10. “Dreamy Swirls on Saturn”

This digitally colorized photograph beautifully defines clouds on Saturn’s northern hemisphere.