25 Years Ago the Cassini Spacecraft Set Off on a Journey to Saturn in October 1997

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
December 28, 2021 Updated: December 28, 2021

Launched a quarter of a century ago on 15 October 1997, the Cassini spacecraft spent 13 years exploring Saturn.

The only spacecraft to ever orbit Saturn, Cassini showed scientists the planet, its rings, and moons up close in all their splendour.

In all, Cassini collected more than 453,000 images and travelled 4.9 billion miles.

Cassini departed Earth in 1997 and arrived at the sixth planet from our sun in 2004.

Cassini disintegrated in the skies above the ringed planet in a final, fateful blaze of cosmic glory in September 2017.

Cassini was named after the Italian-born astronomer Giovanni Cassini, who discovered four of Saturn’s moons in the late 1600s as well as the division between Saturn’s rings.