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Friday Forum: Cassini Special Edition
Fri Sep 15, 2017 5:56am

Today is a sad day. In about two hours, the NASA space probe Cassini will be plummetting into the atmosphere of Saturn. It will keep transmitting the data from its instruments for as long as its thrusters, operating at full power, can keep its antenna pointed at Earth.

But the force of its descent will be too strong. It will lose lock. It will tumble. And then it will be gone.

It won't be sending pictures back on its way down - they would take too long to transmit. But over the thirteen years of its mission around Saturn, it has sent back literally tens of thousands of beautiful images of the planet, its rings, its family of moons, and - on one memorable day in 2013 - every single human being who has ever lived.

This is a sad day. In fact, it's a sharding miserable day, particularly for those of us who used the probes maps of Titan on our Gathering there. There's no other probe like it - of the four other probes beyond the Belt, the Voyagers are just looking at the stars, New Horizons can only make flybys, and Juno is locked into a close orbit around Jupiter, and seems to be ignoring the moons. Cassini is unique, and in a very short while, it will be gone.

... which is why I wrote/compiled a small tribute to it and its years of work.

Goodnight, Cassini


    • Rest in peace, Cassini. Thank you. (nm)eatpraylove, Sat Sep 16 10:28pm
    • Cassini down.Huinesoron, Fri Sep 15 8:50am
      The ship has hit the atmosphere, and contact has been lost. The Deep Space Network (at the time of posting) tragically shows Canberra 43 and 35 standing open on the CAS channel - but nothing coming... more
      • That last photograph is eerie.Iximaz, Fri Sep 15 12:25pm
        And now I'm imagining how it fell. Did it burn? Break apart? Simply get crushed by the gravity?
        • End of Mission...Delta Juliette, Sat Sep 16 1:05pm
          Mostly-wild guessing here, plus a lot of time playing KSP: Cassini broke apart early in atmospheric entry, probably not long after loss of signal. At that time, everything was still moving... more
    • I'm afraid I don't have much good to report from my corner of the world, either. Local news This actually happened back on 9/11 and it freaked me out. Officials say gas leak caused New Albany house... more
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