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If you could magically teleport across the solar system, Saturn would be a great place to swing by on Friday morning.

Hovering above the ringed planet’s surface, you’d see something amazing. Just after 6:32 a.m. EDT, a bus-size object will scream over the cloud tops, burst into millions of pieces, and glow like a meteor.

But this meteor isn’t a rock: It’s NASA’s nuclear-powered Cassini spacecraft plunging to its doom.

There’s little chance telescopes will see the 20-year, $3.26-billion mission come to an end.

However, NASA TV is broadcasting live online video of the final stages of Cassini’s “Grand Finale,” the moment its last stream of data comes in, and — by extension — confirmation that it’s died. (You can watch via YouTube or Ustream at the end of this post.)

Why scientists are killing Cassini

NASA launched Cassini toward Saturn in 1997. The probe arrived in 2004, and has studied the planet, its rings of ice and dust, and collection of mysterious moons ever since.

On Friday, the mission is coming to a “a fiery end high above the clouds of Saturn,” Earl Maize, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) who …read more


Source:: Businessinsider – Tech

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