The Cassini orbiter was launched on October 15, 1997, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and along with the Huygens probe began a journey that would eventually last almost 20 years. Cassini’s Grand Finale-the moment when the exploratory mission backed by 27 nations sends its last data signal across the solar system-took place September 15, 2017, at which point Cassini was set adrift by NASA into Saturn’s upper atmosphere and burnt to a mechanical crisp. During the 13-plus years Cassini was studying Saturn its accomplishments and statistics were other-wordly impressive, including:
- 635 gigabytes of data collected.
- Over 450,000 images taken.
- 4.9 billion miles (7.8 billion kilometers) traveled since it was launched.
- 294 orbits of Saturn completed.
- Cost of the mission: $3.9 billion (U.S. dollars).