Reuters via Washington Post reports:

WASHINGTON - NASA’s Galileo space probe ended its eight-year mission to Jupiter Sunday as expected in a fiery collision with the largest planet as the space scientists celebrated back on Earth.

The space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., lost contact with the spacecraft slightly after 3:40 p.m. EDT, 2 minutes and 36 seconds before expected, laboratory spokesman D.C. Agle said.

More than 1,000 people who worked on the Galileo program gathered at the Laboratory to celebrate the end of the mission, Agle said.

Galileo was low on propellant and six years past its original end date. Launched from space shuttle Atlantis in 1989, Galileo traveled about 2.8 billion miles .

Galileo orbited Jupiter 34 times and obtained the first direct measurements of its atmosphere by sending a descent probe parachuting down toward the planet in 1995.

It detected evidence of underground salt water oceans on Jupiter’s moons Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, and examined the lively, intensely hot, volcanoes on the moon Io.