World Bulletin / News Desk
After 20 years in space, NASA's famed Cassini spacecraft made its final death plunge into Saturn on Friday, ending a storied mission that scientists say taught us nearly everything we know about Saturn today and transformed the way we think about life elsewhere in the solar system.
"The signal from the spacecraft is gone," said Cassini program manager Earl Maize of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
"I hope you are all as deeply proud of this amazing accomplishment," he told colleagues at mission control. "This has been an incredible mission, an incredible spacecraft and you are all an incredible team."
Cassini's final contact with Earth came at 7:55 am EDT (1155 GMT). Its descent into Saturn's atmosphere began about an hour and a half earlier, but the signal took that long to reach Earth because of the vast distance.
Cassini's plunge into the ringed gas giant -- the furthest planet visible from Earth with the naked eye -- came after the spacecraft ran out of rocket fuel after a journey of some 4.9 billion miles (7.9 billion kilometers).
Its well-planned demise was a way to prevent any damage to Saturn's ocean-bearing moons Titan and Enceladus, which scientists want to keep pristine for future exploration because they may contain some form of life.
"There are international treaties that require that we can't just leave a derelict spacecraft in orbit around a planet like Saturn, which has prebiotic moons," said Maize.
Three other spacecraft have flown by Saturn -- Pioneer 11 in 1979, followed by Voyager 1 and 2 in the 1980s.
But none have studied Saturn in such detail as Cassini, named after the French-Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, who discovered in the 17th century that Saturn had several moons and a gap between its rings.
"This is the final chapter of an amazing mission, but it's also a new beginning,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.
"Cassini's discovery of ocean worlds at Titan and Enceladus changed everything, shaking our views to the core about surprising places to search for potential life beyond Earth."
Gersan to install charging stations throughout Turkey following agreement with Tesla Motors Netherlands B.V. last month
Journalists were able to access the service on Sunday and officials confirmed it has been restored.
Computer scholars develop games letting impaired people improve their sight through online games
Project 'Neogene' to study DNA samples from Turkey's Anatolian region
The "growing societal unease" over the intensive use of smartphones by children is "at some point is likely to impact even Apple", they warned.
Such people would be "central" in their social networks, and thus likelier to spread disease-causing germs from one group to another.
Aselsan device for monitoring vehicles' speed and distance expected to avoid outflow of almost €1 billion ($1.17 billion)
Social media users call out company for echoing Trump policy
Beijing Automotive Group Co (BAIC) chairman Xu Heyi said over the weekend the company will phase out sales of conventional cars in Beijing by 2020 and nationwide by 2025, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Shazam, which identifies songs from short excerpts, likely to be rolled into Apple’s mobile device software
Turkish defense minister in London says 'there will be no delay'
Local tech start-ups in Gaza Strip must work around Israeli blockade; open borders could boost their opportunities
Activists and tech leaders including Tesla's Elon Musk have called on the UN to ban fully-automated weapons systems that could revolutionise warfare while putting civilians at heightened risk.
Tweet capacity doubled in almost all supported languages
AkinSoft company starts mass production of human-robots named 'Ada GH5'