The time is coming when we will all say goodbye to Cassini, the spacecraft exploring Saturn since it first turned its cameras to stare at the planet in 2002. It began its Grand Finale activities some months ago with final orbits, final images, and other “last” looks at the Saturn system. The last pass around the moon Titan is done. The spacecraft got a gravitational kick from that loop that sends it right into Saturn’s northern hemisphere clouds on Friday. The last command sequences are sent. All controllers can do now is wait, monitor transmissions coming back from Cassini, and make any last-minute changes as necessary.
Cassini Opened New Windows on Saturn
As I look over the many, many images and other data reports from the mission, it’s hard to select a “favorite” result. It continues to show us way more than simply a ringed planet with a bunch of moons and some gorgeous rings. Granted, we are used to seeing great images of the system from the Voyager spacecraft in the 1980s. But, Cassini did it in high-res for years.
One of the great truisms about planetary science tells us that while it’s good to take snapshots of a ...