On Friday morning the Cassini spacecraft will turn its antennae towards earth one last time as it plunges into Saturn’s atmosphere and eventually burns up, the grand finale of Cassini’s remarkable 20-year expedition to explore the ringed giant and its moons.
SEE MORE: Saying goodbye to the universe’s best photographer
Starting at 7 a.m. EDT on Friday, NASA will broadcast a special tribute to the spacecraft as the engineers and rocket scientists who’ve worked on the project for more than two decades bid it farewell. At about 7:55 the spacecraft will begin its descent into Saturn’s atmosphere, transmitting scientific data back to earth until it is destroyed two to three minutes later.
Slooh, a virtual telescope company, also pointed its cameras at Saturn Thursday for a discussion of Cassini’s mission. Below is a replay of that discussion.
NASA has also prepared this short video explaining what will happen to Cassini on Friday.
READ: An obituary for Saturn’s Cassini-Huygens space probe, 1997-2017