After almost 20 years in space, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is in the final chapter of its remarkable story of exploration: its Grand Finale. On September 15, Cassini will plunge into Saturn, losing contact with Earth at approximately 7:54 am EDT (time subject to change). To mark the occasion, we’re inviting visitors to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, starting at 7:00 am to celebrate Cassini’s Grand Finale.
Schedule of Events:
7:00 am: Doors open
7:30 – 8:30 am: NASA live stream with play-by-play commentary from Michelle Thaller, Deputy Director of Science for Communication at NASA Headquarters
7:54 am: End of signal (time subject to change
8:00 am – 12:00 pm: Activities on the Museum floor
- Cassini’s Grand Finale – 360 VR video
- Building Saturn’s Rings
- Eyes on the Solar System
- Planetary Billiards
- Pilot Cassini’s Grand Finale
9:30 – 11:00 am: Live stream of NASA press conference about Cassini’s Grand Finale
*For visitors arriving before 9:00 am, there will not be a charge for parking. Anyone arriving after 9:00 am will be subject to a $15 parking fee.
About Cassini and the Grand Finale:
Cassini was launched on October 15, 1997 to investigate Saturn, its rings, and its moons. It arrived at Saturn seven years later, and has been exploring the planet for the past 13 years. With its supply of rocket propellant nearly depleted, NASA will deliberately plunge Cassini into Saturn, ending its remarkable twenty year mission.
Between April and September 2017, Cassini completed a daring set of orbits that were, in many ways, like a whole new mission. Following a final close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan, Cassini leapt over the planet's icy rings and began a series of 22 weekly dives between the planet and the rings. On the final orbit, Cassini will plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere, sending back new and unique science to the very end. After losing contact with Earth, the spacecraft will burn up like a meteor, becoming part of the planet itself.
Want to show the world how Cassini has inspired you? Write a poem. Paint a picture. Choreograph a dance. Tell a story. Ask yourself: what has Cassini shown us about the worlds of the solar system? How about our own world? Your creation can be in any medium: writing, sculpture, drama, music, even a recipe—any format that can be shared online. The possibilities are endless.
Learn more about the rules and guidelines, and how to submit your creation, on NASA’s website.