The beginning of the end for the Cassini spacecraft is underway as NASA released the first images from the craft's incredible dive between Saturn and its rings.
The remarkable feat of engineering was the first of an astounding 22 such maneuvers, dubbed 'The Grand Finale' by the space agency, that will take place throughout the next few months, no doubt producing an ever-increasing amount of breathtaking images.
NASA scientists behind the mission marveled that the images from the probe constitute the closest any craft has gotten to the surface of Saturn and provide a wealth of new insights into the mysterious world.
They also expressed optimism about future dives by Cassini as the probe reportedly emerged from the journey "in excellent shape" and seemingly ready for its next trip on May 2nd.
The series of dives will culminate on September 15th when the probe plunges toward the planet and smashes into the surface of Saturn for a fiery demise.
The explosive ending for Cassini is being orchestrated by NASA in order to protect Saturn's moons from contamination by Earthly microbes.
Apparently the space agency is less concerned about Saturn itself, suggesting that there probably aren't aliens hiding beneath the planet's murky atmosphere.