This shows the location in the ringed planet’s atmosphere where the spacecraft made impact and then vaporized.Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute The last photographs taken by Cassini started streaming back to Earth on Thursday.
The most resilient bits were probably the casings around its plutonium power source: The 72 marshmallow-size pellets are encased in iridium and graphite containers designed to withstand re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere or an explosion at launch.
Cassini’s final bits of information, collected by radio dishes in Australia, arrived at Earth at 7:55 a.m. Eastern time after traveling about one billion miles from Saturn.
The orbiter became Cassini, built and operated by NASA; the Titan Probe was named Huygens, a project of the European Space Agency.
The data from Huygens, together with that gathered by Cassini in repeated flybys, revealed Titan as a world shaped by active geological processes with rivers, lakes and rain.
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