Cassini sent its final signal early Friday morning before making a fiery plunge into Saturn's atmosphere, where it lasted 20 seconds longer than anticipated as it burned up.
JPL received its final transmission from the spacecraft just before 5 a.m. Shortly after that, project manager Earl Maize made it official and declared: "End of mission." Applause and tears followed.
Launched in 1997 to study Saturn — a mere 746 million miles or so away from Earth — Cassini was the first spacecraft to enter the giant gas planet's orbit.
While Cassini's life is over, scientists will spend years combing through the treasure trove of data and images it gathered during its two decades of exploration.