How to Send Off a Beloved Space Robot in Style

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Cassini Grand Finale Campaign

After almost 20 years in space and 13 years revealing the wonders of Saturn, NASA’s Cassini’s orbiter was running out of fuel in 2017. As a final act, Cassini began a whole new mission—its Grand Finale—a journey into the unknown that would end with a spectacular plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn.

We needed to celebrate the mission’s game-changing science and engineering accomplishments AND share the excitement of a brand new adventure AND communicate why this beloved spacecraft must meet its end. All as the spacecraft whipped around Saturn every seven days—at speeds up to 70,000 mph.

With Cassini, we had a rare opportunity and we seized it.
- -Dr. Linda Spilker, Cassini Project Scientist

The day-to-day campaign kicked off in April 2017 with Cassini’s first, daring ring crossing—into the unexplored space between the giant planet and its rings—and climaxed on September 15 with moment-to-moment accounts of Cassini’s plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere with the spacecraft sending back science to the very last second.

What We Did

We also created a series of commemorative posters—inspired by pop culture classics ranging from art to advertising to rock 'n' roll—to download and share.

Impact

  • Biggest NASA-driven social event to date.

Who We Are

We are JPL's Communications and Education Directorate, a team of science communicators who share the wonders of space exploration with the public, school kids, journalists and anyone else who wants to come along on on the the web and social media, on television, in classrooms and large public events.

We are the Cassini Mission to Saturn, a diverse family of scientists, engineers, software engineers, accountants, administrative assistants and so many others who kept a school bus-sized space robot winding through the Saturn system for 13 amazing years.

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