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Intersection: The End Of The Cassini Spacecraft

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The Cassini spacecraft burned up in the atmosphere of Saturn Friday morning, ending a nearly two-decade-long mission exploring the ringed planet.

The mission helped planetary scientists discover water on some of Saturn’s moons, opening up the possibility of life elsewhere in our solar system.

University of Central Florida planetary scientist Josh Colwell has been working on the Cassini mission his entire career. Colwell joined Intersection before Cassini’s so-called grand finale about his time working on the project, and what he hopes will be Cassini’s legacy.

Colwell said one of the highlights of the Cassini mission was the finding of a liquid ocean beneath the surface of Saturn’s moons Enceladus and Titan.

“Liquid water is one of the key sign posts that we look for as a potential indicator for habitable environments, some place life might exist.”

Colwell said Saturn’s rings are one of the most unique features of the solar system and demands an explanation on how and why they came about.

“We can’t say we really understand where we came from if there’s this big bright startling feature around Saturn of a broad planetary ring system and we have to shrug our shoulders and say ‘well I don’t know about that’,” he said.

Colwell hopes Cassini’s legacy will create “a more complete picture of our solar system,” Colwell said.

“And for the potential for life elsewhere in our solar system besides Earth.”

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