- NASA's Cassini spacecraft will complete its remarkable story of exploration with an intentional plunge into Saturn's atmosphere, ending its mission after nearly 20 years in space. News briefings, photo opportunities and other media events will be held at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website.
NASA also will hold a media teleconference Tuesday, Aug. 29 to preview activities for Cassini during its final two weeks.
Launched in 1997, Cassini arrived in orbit around Saturn in 2004 on a mission to study the giant planet, its rings, moons and magnetosphere. In April of this year, Cassini began the final phase of its mission, called its Grand Finale — a daring series of 22 weekly dives between the planet and its rings. On Sept. 15, Cassini will plunge into Saturn, sending new and unique science about the planet’s upper atmosphere to the very end. After losing contact with Earth, the spacecraft will burn up like a meteor. This is the first time a spacecraft has explored this unique region of Saturn — a dramatic conclusion to a mission that has revealed so much about the ringed planet.
Cassini flight controllers will monitor the spacecraft’s final transmissions from JPL Mission Control. Interviews with mission engineers and scientists will be available for media.
Cassini Media Events and Schedule
(All media teleconferences and NASA TV news conferences will be available on the agency’s website, and times are subject to change)
Tuesday, Aug. 29
- 2 p.m. EDT — Media teleconference about spacecraft science and operations activities for the final orbits leading up to the end of the mission will include:
- Curt Niebur, Cassini program scientist, Headquarters, Washington
- Earl Maize, Cassini project manager, JPL
- Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist, JPL
Visuals discussed during the telecon will be available at the start of the event at:
Wednesday, Sept. 13
- 1 p.m. EDT — News conference from JPL with a detailed preview of final mission activities (also available on NASA TV and online)
- 11:15 a.m. PDT — Media tours of Mission Control (each group tour will last about half an hour)
Thursday, Sept. 14
- 10 a.m. to 3 p.m PDT — NASA Social — onsite gathering for 30 pre-selected social media followers (JPL-accredited media may also attend). Events will include a tour, and a speaker program that will be carried on NASA TV and online.
- After 2 p.m. PDT — Media tours of Mission Control
- About 8 p.m. PDT — Final downlink of images expected to begin (streamed online only)
Friday, Sept. 15: End of Mission
- 7 to 8:30 a.m. EDT — Live commentary on NASA TV and online. In addition, an uninterrupted, clean feed of cameras from JPL Mission Control, with mission audio only, will be available during the commentary on the NASA TV Media Channel and on Ustream.
- About 8 a.m. EDT — Expected time of last signal and science data from Cassini
- 9:30 a.m. EDT — Post-mission news conference at JPL (on NASA TV and online)
To participate by phone in any of the three briefings, media must contact Andrew Good at firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-393-2433 by one hour before each of the briefings’ start time. To attend the Sept. 13 and Sept. 15 news conferences in person, media must have credentials arranged in advance. Media and the public also may ask questions during the events using #askNASA.