May 5, 2016

This animation, from Cassini's navigation team, shows the spacecraft's final orbits in 2016 and 2017. 

The green-colored orbits already visible at the beginning of the video represent the F-ring orbits, which Cassini will complete between November 2016 and April 2017. During this set of 20 orbits, the spacecraft approaches to just outside the edge of Saturn's main rings. 

The blue-colored orbits represent the Grand Finale orbits, which take place between April and September 2017, leading to Cassini's end-of-mission plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on Sept. 15.

An animated chart at lower right illustrates how the distance of Cassini's point of closest approach to Saturn changes changes several times over the course of the Grand Finale. The orange circle represents the orbit of Saturn's moon Titan.

Credit

NASA/JPL-Caltech