The Spokesman-Review published this Murrow News Service story by Erik Gomez on Sept. 14, 2017.

For 30 years, David Atkinson has had a recurring thought: the Cassini Spacecraft.

Now it is all coming to an end. At 4:55 a.m. Friday, the spacecraft’s final message will reach Earth.

Then, it will disintegrate in Saturn’s atmosphere.

“Seeing Cassini end is a very sentimental and difficult time. I’m 61 years old, and I have thought about Cassini for 30 years,” said Atkinson, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “It’s a part of my life and family, and in a few days it’s going away. It’s going to be a very sad day.”

An alumnus of Washington State University and professor emeritus at the University of Idaho, Atkinson began his work with Cassini in 1987. He led a team that developed a probe to measure wind speed and direction on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons.

Read the full story on The Spokesman-Review website.