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cassini headed for saturn plunge after titan 'goodbye kiss'

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cassini headed for saturn plunge after titan 'goodbye kiss'

after a "goodbye kiss" with saturn's huge moon titan, nasa's cassini spacecraft should now be on course for its suicide dive into the ringed planet friday (sept. 15). cassini zoomed within 73,974 miles (119,049 kilometers) of titan monday (sept. 11) in a flyby designed to lower the probe's orbit enough to ensure that it will crash into saturn's thick atmosphere as planned on friday, nasa officials said. monday's encounter was the last of more than 100 that cassini has had with titan since the spacecraft arrived in the saturn system on the night of june 30, 2004. [cassini's saturn crash 2017: how to watch its 'grand finale'] "cassini has been in a long-term relationship with titan, with a new rendezvous nearly every month for more than a decade," cassini project manager earl maize, of nasa's jet propulsion laboratory in pasadena, california, said in a statement. "this final encounter is something of a bittersweet goodbye, but as it has done throughout the mission, titan's gravity is once again sending cassini where we need it to go," maize added. mission team members should know for sure whether cassini is lined up properly for its death dive after a scheduled check-in with the probe this evening (sept. 12), nasa officials said. that death dive was planned because cassini is running out of fuel, and the spacecraft's handlers want to make sure the probe is disposed of properly before they lose control of it. the main goal is to mak...