The spacecraft Galileo approached the fringes of Jupiter's atmosphere Sunday afternoon and then was directed to destroy itself in a high-speed plunge.
Thousands of astronomy buffs were logged in to NASA's Web site for a narration of the final minutes.
NASA also maintained a countdown clock and animated simulation ending as the spacecraft screamed into the planet's atmosphere at 108,000 miles per hour -- and the words "Farewell Galileo" appeared, United Press International reported.
The spacecraft was rigged to sample the outer atmosphere as it hit. The data itself was not due back on Earth for another 52 minutes, the time it took radio transmissions to make the trip.
In all Galileo lasted 14 years and traveled about 2.8 billion miles (4.6 billion kilometers). Tt had to be destroyed because it was never sterilized. Frozen Earth germs could have infected Europus, the moon of Jupiter which Galileo discovered has subsurface water.