Goodbye, Cassini

Tomorrow at roughly 7:55AM EDT Cassini will commit suicide by jumping into a planet. Okay, maybe that’s a little too human a verb. Put it that it’s being sent down to the surface (?) of a gas planet whose radius is 36, 184 miles, second in size only to Jupiter. It’s traveling at 76,000 miles per hour, so it won’t take much contact with the giant’s atmosphere to rip it to pieces. As that’s happening, though, it will continue to send data as long as it’s capable, plucky little (not so little — 22 feet high and 13 feet wide) spacecraft that it is.

Read that link when you have a few minutes. It’s got excellent audio-video links and graphics.

NASA TV will broadcast live commentary online of Cassini’s end, beginning at 7 a.m. Eastern time on Friday.