Saturn's icy moon Enceladus sinks behind the planet in a farewell portrait from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, which destroyed itself by diving into the ringed giant on September 15, 2017.
Dear Cassini: Why the Saturn Spacecraft Brings Me to Tears
A year after our ambassador to the ringed planet plunged to its doom, one writer reflects on its enduring legacy.
The day you left us, nearly a year ago now, was bittersweet. I knew there was an end date—that 13 years at Saturn was already a lot to ask of you—but when the day arrived for you to go, I wasn’t ready.
That morning, hundreds of us sat together at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California waiting for your signal to vanish. Your NASA team members were scattered around the room, some smiling because they were so proud, while others were in tears. My heart was pounding knowing you were falling backward, trying so hard to face your home until the end. I pictured your instruments breaking off, igniting so fast they vaporized, the atmosphere agape,