One of the greatest photographers in the solar system is about to hang up its camera. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has taken nearly 400,000 images during its slow sojourn to Saturn, documenting its 53 or so moons and stunning rings, resulting in a collection of humbling, jaw-dropping, and completely spectacular images.
However, Cassini is calling it quits tomorrow. During its exploration of Saturn and its rings, it will dive into the gas giant’s atmosphere, where it will “break apart, melt, vaporize, and become a part of the very planet it left Earth 20 years ago to explore,” Cassini project manager Earl Maize said in a press conference. NASA’s decision sounds cutthroat, but they are decimating the craft because they don’t want to risk it crashing into one of Saturn’s moons. It’s a dramatic end for the spacecraft that has helped scientists understand the universe, and humans appreciate the immense vastness of space.
Here, we look back at some of Cassini’s many, many gorgeous photos. Thank you, Cassini.