Google doodle pays tribute to Cassini’s ‘Grand Finale’

New Delhi: Google today dedicated a quirky doodle to NASA’s Cassini spacecraft as it began its final set of 22 orbits of Saturn before the probe plunges into the ringed planet to bring an end to its 20-year-long journey.

The colourful, animated doodle, created by US artist Nate Swineheart, depicts a cute little Cassini spacecraft as an interstellar photographer, waiting with a camera.

As Saturn comes into view, Cassini clicks multiple images of Saturn, and then takes a selfie.

The spacecraft will indulge in series of swoops between Saturn and its rings that are part of Cassini’s dramatic “Grand Finale,” a set of orbits offering scientists an unprecedented look at the second largest planet in our solar system.

“By plunging into this fascinating frontier, Cassini will help scientists learn more about the origins, mass, and age of Saturn’s rings, as well as the mysteries of the gas giant’s interior. And of course there will be breathtaking additions to Cassini’s already stunning photo gallery,” Google said.

Cassini is a joint endeavour of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian space agency (ASI).

The spacecraft began its 2.2 billion mile journey 20 years ago and has been hanging out with Saturn since 2004.

Later this year, Cassini will say goodbye and become part of Saturn when it crashes through the planet’s atmosphere.