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Cassini's final picture sent to Earth

Cassini's final imageTwitter/@JPMajor
Jason Major, who is well known for processing pictures from space missions, put this image on social media saying it is Cassini's final one from Saturn

That's it. The space probe Cassini's epic mission exploring Saturn is over!

And here is the amazing final picture that it sent back to Earth, before crashing into the ringed planet's atmosphere and destroying itself.

Its journey had to come to an end because the probe had run out of fuel. It is just one month before it would have been the 20th anniversary of its launch.

Scientists huggingNASA
Scientists hugged as it was announced the mission had come to an end

The team behind the Cassini mission at a laboratory in California in America clapped and hugged each other after the final signal was received at 11:55 and 46 seconds.

"This has been an incredible mission, an incredible spacecraft, you're an incredible team," said the Cassini programme manager Earl Maize.

Saturn is such a long way from Earth, that the probe had actually already been destroyed for 83 minutes by the time this final picture reached Earth.

Mission controlNASA
Many scientists were closely monitoring Cassini's final plunge to destruction

It has been on its mission since 1997 when it set off, arriving in orbit around Saturn in 2004.

Amongst its many discoveries, Cassini has found new moons orbiting the planet, signs of possible life on existing moons and huge underground oceans spewing fountains of water into space.

A detailed view of Saturn's rings made with images from CassiniReuters
A detailed view of Saturn's rings made with images from Cassini

In April this year, it started its final challenge which was to dive between the planet and its rings to capture pictures of what it looks like. It completed 22 of these amazing dives.

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Just how many pictures did the probe take?

But now, it is all over and the picture at the top of this page will go down in history, marking the end of a truly remarkable space mission by the probe.

So long, Cassini!