"No spacecraft has ever gone through the unique region that we'll attempt to boldly cross 22 times," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in a statement Monday. "What we learn from Cassini’s daring final orbits will further our understanding of how giant planets, and planetary systems everywhere, form and evolve. This is truly discovery in action to the very end."
At the end of these loops between the planet and its rings, the spacecraft will do a death dive into the planet. The final descent is planned for September 15. "Cassini's grand finale is so much more than a final plunge," says Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "It's a thrilling final chapter for our intrepid spacecraft, and so scientifically rich that it was the clear and obvious choice for how to end the mission."