NASA sent a spacecraft called Cassini to the planet Saturn. It was launched on October 15, 1997. After seven years the spacecraft entered orbit around Saturn on July 01, 2004. On December 25, 2004, Huygens separated from the orbiter, and it landed on Saturn’s moon Titan on January 14, 2005. It successfully returned data to Earth, using the orbiter as a relay. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System and the first landing on a moon other than our own. Cassini continued to study the Saturn system in the following years.
Due to a dwindling fuel supply, the spacecraft conducted the Grand Finale phase of its mission, where it performed a number of risky passes through the gaps between Saturn and Saturn’s inner rings. The purpose of this phase was to maximize Cassini‘s scientific outcome before the spacecraft was intentionally destroyed by letting it dive into Saturn’s atmosphere. The planned deorbiting is necessary to mitigate the risk of the spacecraft eventually colliding with and contaminating one of Saturn’s moons. The spacecraft’s descent into Saturn’s atmosphere will occur on September 15, 2017.