CWU News

CWU Physicist One of NASA Group to Witness Cassini's Last Transmission

After nearly two decades, the NASA Cassini mission to Saturn will come to an end at approximately 5:00 a.m., September 15, when the spacecraft plunges into Saturn's atmosphere.

Darci Snowden, a physicist at Central Washington University, worked on this flagship mission, analyzing data from Cassini to learn more about the atmosphere on Titan, which is Saturn's largest and most mysterious moon.

Although Cassini will stop transmitting this Friday, Snowden says her work with the mission is far from over.

"The project is never complete," she said with a smile. "I’ll be working with Cassini data long after Cassini is gone."

Snowden will be at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena to attend the “Final Plunge Event" with other Cassini scientists awaiting Cassini’s last transmission on Friday morning.

According the JPL, "Cassini will plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn, ending its remarkable exploration of the giant planet. During its journey, Cassini has made many discoveries, including a global ocean with hydrothermal activity within Saturn's moon Enceladus, and vast seas of liquid methane on the planet's largest moon, Titan.

Cassini began the final, dramatic phase of its mission, called the Grand Finale, on April 26, with the first of 22 planned dives between Saturn and its rings. The finale orbits brought the spacecraft closer to Saturn than ever before, providing new insights into the planet's interior structure and the origins of the rings, along with stunning images. During its final plunge into Saturn, Cassini will send data about the atmosphere's composition until its signal is lost.”

For more information about Cassini's Grand Finale, go to

For more information about Snowden's work on the Cassini mission, go to

Photo courtesy of NASA

Media Contact: Valerie Chapman-Stockwell, Public Affairs, 509-963-1518,