How Cassini Managed to Live Such a Long and Useful Life at Saturn
Mission scientists gathered at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Sept. 15 to say goodbye to the probe and watch its final plunge. JPL was the lead institute on designing and building Cassini, and the probe was operated from JPL, using the facility’s Deep Space Network.
Erick Sturm, the Cassini mission planner, was in JPL’s Mission Control Center during Cassini’s final hours, watching as data poured in from the probe until the very last second. Over the next few months, he’ll work with colleagues to determine just how far into Saturn’s atmosphere the probe fell and where it finally disintegrated.
The probe crashed into Saturn, it had about 1 percent of its fuel left. But Barber said there was enough of an error on that measurement that the team members were constantly nervous about the probe not being able to make all of its final maneuvers.