NASA Snags an Emmy Nomination for Cassini Spacecraft's Grand Finale

This is an artist's illustration of NASA's Cassini spacecraft diving into Saturn's atmosphere on Sept 15, 2017. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory received an Emmy nomination for its coverage of Cassini's Grand Finale plunge. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's coverage of the Cassini spacecraft's Grand Finale at Saturn has snagged an Emmy nomination.

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences has nominated NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for an Emmy in the Outstanding Original Interactive Program category for the way it communicated and publicized Cassini's spectacular "Grand Finale" at Saturn. On Sept. 15, 2017, after almost 20 years in space and 13 years in the Saturn system, the Cassini orbiter began plummeting toward the planet in an epic, final dive.

Cassini's ending dive took the spacecraft between the planet and its rings. Live footage showed Cassini's plunge into the planet's atmosphere, and the spacecraft continued to send data back to Earth until its last moments. [Cassini's 'Grand Finale' at Saturn: NASA's Plan in Pictures]

One of the last images of Saturn taken by the Cassini spacecraft in September 2017. NASA JPL received an Emmy nomination for the spectacular footage and coverage of Cassini's final journey. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Aside from live coverage, JPL staff communicated the magnitude of this journey in an expansive campaign. They brought the public on Cassini's journey using posts and live videos on social media platforms; the mission's website; television broadcasts; 360-degree videos (including NASA's first 360-degree livestream of a mission event inside JPL mission control); education and press materials; illustrations and artistic renderings of the plunge; a short film that showcased the drama and history of the mission; and real-time tracking of every last moment of Cassini's journey.

This extensive coverage and the unparalleled images from Cassini's journey led to this surprising nomination: NASA mission coverage isn't typically first in line for awards like this, but Cassini brought Saturn to Earth in an unprecedented way. The mission highlighted Saturn's beauty and revealed details about the origin and composition of the planet, its rings and its 60 moons.

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Chelsea Gohd
Senior Writer

Chelsea “Foxanne” Gohd joined in 2018 and is now a Senior Writer, writing about everything from climate change to planetary science and human spaceflight in both articles and on-camera in videos. With a degree in Public Health and biological sciences, Chelsea has written and worked for institutions including the American Museum of Natural History, Scientific American, Discover Magazine Blog, Astronomy Magazine and Live Science. When not writing, editing or filming something space-y, Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd is writing music and performing as Foxanne, even launching a song to space in 2021 with Inspiration4. You can follow her on Twitter @chelsea_gohd and @foxannemusic.