25 April, 2017
In fact, the team explained that they would not even immediately know if it even survived its first journey through the ring gap, as a status message sent by Cassini won't even arrive on Earth until approximately a day later.
In its final months on the job, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is still taking some fascinating images.
This cropped, zoomed-in version of the above image makes it easier to see the Moon - a smaller, fainter dot to the left of Earth's bright dot.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft just made its 127th and final close approach to Saturn's moon Titan.
After almost 20 years of traveling in space, Cassini used the gravitational tug of Titan, a moon resembling primordial Earth, to hurl itself into a new orbit that will pass through an unexplored region between Saturn's cloud tops and its rings.
NASA said the Cassini mission to Saturn is "one of the most ambitious efforts in planetary space exploration ever mounted". At this point, the mission will conclude with Cassini plunging into Saturn's atmosphere.
"With this flyby we're committed to the Grand Finale", said Earl Maize, Cassini project manager at JPL.
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He said that the administration's goal was to make trade more fair and was not aimed at erecting protectionist barriers.
Cassini received a large increase in velocity of about precisely 860.5 metres per second with respect to Saturn from the close encounter with Titan.
Technically, Cassini began its Grand Finale orbits at this time, but since the excitement of the finale begins in earnest on April 26th with the first ultra-close dive past Saturn, the mission is celebrating the latter milestone as the formal beginning of the finale.
The canyon, known as Ithaca Chasma, is visible at the image's lower right, near the terminator - the line between a celestial object's dayside and nightside.
This unprocessed image of Saturn's moon Titan was captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during its final close flyby of the hazy, planet-sized moon on April 21, 2017.
Though the space agency released the photo today, Cassini actually captured it on January 30, 2017, when the probe was about 221,000 miles (356,000 km) from Tethys.
Cassini's fuel is running out, and therefore, the orbiter's work at the ringed planet is nearly done.