Cassini was launched in 2004, and set on the final chapter of its nearly two decade long journey in April this year.
As Cassini approaches Saturn, it will continue taking photos of the planet, its rings and moons, with its final images expected to be received Thursday night.
Dr Katie Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist at the University of Melbourne. And Cassini's final jump into the rings of Saturn is being celebrated by the worldwide space organisation.
"Cassini has been in a long-term relationship with Titan, with a new rendezvous almost every month for more than a decade", said Cassini project manager Dr. Earl Maize, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Cassini made a close flyby of Saturn's moon Titan on Monday, a pass that slightly shifted the spacecraft's trajectory and sent it on a path leading into Saturn's atmosphere. But any flashes will be hard to see given the time - close to high noon at Saturn - and Cassini's minuscule size against the solar system's second largest planet.
Now, as the principal investigator on CU Boulder's $12 million Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) on the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, Esposito and his Cassini colleagues are feeling a bit somber: The spacecraft has run out of fuel and will disintegrate in Saturn's dense atmosphere early on the morning of September 15.
In the end, Cassini will have witnessed half of a Saturn year. Esposito, who used observations from the Voyager mission to compare the rings of Saturn, Jupiter and Neptune, believes Saturn's rings may be as old as the solar system, which is believed to have formed some 4.6 billion years ago.
Cassini changed the way scientists understood the Saturn system and raised new questions: Could there be a liquid water. As seasons on Saturn last about seven Earth years each, Cassini was just able to witness summer in the northern hemisphere before the mission ends. We learned there are 3-D structures in the rings.
"Because of planetary protection, and our desire to go back to Enceladus, and go back to Titan", said Jim Green, the leader of NASA's planetary science program, "we must protect those bodies for future exploration". How do you become a NASA scientist?