Cassini spacecraft: The most stunning images from the ship’s decade-long orbit around Saturn

The Cassini spacecraft is headed to its death in Saturn’s atmosphere.

But first, it will do some more of the groundbreaking and important science work that it has been doing for the last decade it has spent flying around the planet.

That has included detecting the potential for life in our own solar system and shedding new and unprecedented light on our huge and often surprising neighbour.

Even in its last moments – which will come on 15 September – Cassini will be capturing information and images of the likes never before seen. And the mission will finish as it has gone before – concluding a decade-long project that has included some of the most stunning pictures of space ever taken.

Here’s a small sample of some of those images.

Nasa is currently celebrating the “Grand Finale” of the Cassini mission, which will see it fly closer and closer to Saturn until it burns up.

That finale really began earlier this week, when Cassini flew past the moon Titan for the last time and began a trajectory that will lead to its death. Nasa engineers now couldn’t bring an end to that death spiral if they wanted to, since Cassini is in a fatal orbit.

But it is being celebrated today by Nasa – and in a Google Doodle – because it has begun the first of 22 dives between the rings and the planet that will happen before the mission comes to an end

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