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Cassini: 20-Year Mission to Saturn Nears Grand Finale

After 20 years in space, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft will make its suicide plunge into Saturn's atmosphere on Sept. 15. WSJ talks to the scientists behind the project that led to never-before-seen images of Saturn's rings, moons and surface. Photo: NASA Video: Dipti Kapadia/The Wall Street Journal

The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft will make its plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere on Sept. 15, after 20 years in space. For the scientists who began working on the project in the 1980s, it is the end of decades of work culminating in scientific progress and never-before-seen images of Saturn’s rings, moons and surface.

Cassini changed the way scientists understood the Saturn system and raised new questions: Could there be a liquid water ocean beneath the surface of Saturn’s largest moon Titan?; will Enceladus, another Saturn moon, be a good place to search for extraterrestrial life?

NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency along with several other countries contributed to the instruments and science for Cassini. This video looks at the team of scientists who worked on the Cassini mission and relives the past few decades of tension, hurdles and scientific successes.