It should be a hell of an ending for that big old Cassini spacecraft, incredible to see it still operational after all this time.
I first became more aware of the mission via what passed for late night TV in the UK of the early 1990's, the Open University did a doc called 'Design For An Alien World', in 1992/3, where a group of nerdy young men, seemingly from central casting, at a UK university, were designing a lander for Titan, to be a major part of the ESA contribution to this US built and US launched orbiter. Problem was, what was Titan like? The Voyagers could not see through the clouds and were fly by's. Was the surface a vast ocean of hydrocarbons, or a frozen version, or something in between, maybe a thin crust that could support the small lander or maybe not. What if it lands in a hydrocarbon lake, if they exist, some data from Voyagers suggested hydrocarbons.
Then the instrument package, with severe weight and mass limits, plus all of the above problems, you might land OK but would any science return be possible with so many unknowns?
We know what happened in the end of course, Huygens made it, returned data and those eerie images, an add on to a far bigger, much wider ranging mission, still a relief after losing Beagle 2.
There's a full scale mock up of Huygens in the Science Museum in London, small as it is, fascinating to think the real one made the farthest landfall of any man made object to date, something that will remain for at least decades to come.
But Cassini's mission has if anything, put other Moons of Saturn nearer the top of the table for potential life forms, over Titan, though Saturn's biggest Moon is still there.
Enceladus is screaming for at least an orbiter better yet closely followed, if possible, by a lander, small scale spacecraft though.
Cassini is the last of it's kind, in size with associated cost - though the science return from such a long term and robust mission is the payback, advances in technology have driven down size, Cassini after all was conceived over 30 years ago, was launched nearly 20 years ago, when an i-phone would have seemed unlikely to be around a decade hence, when they started building Cassini mobile phones were more like bricks.
A good call by NASA/JPL to end the mission by combing a suitably spectacular end, good science right up to the last and making sure that Cassini could not one day compromise the search for life on those moons.
It will be interesting to see how the old bird does in the ring gap dives to come, useful data in any case, then of course the ultimate close up of the planet itself.