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Cassini: The Human Adventure is Just Beginning

I wept Friday.

I’m not ashamed to admit it but I actually wept while watching NASA coverage of the end of The Cassini Mission, as one of our favorite space probes descended into the atmosphere of Saturn after it’s near 20 year long mission to explore the ringed planet and her moons. Not a week went by for the past 13 years when we didn’t get a news alert from the probe with some new image from ring giant, the rings themselves, or moons such as Titan, Enceladus, the “Death Star” moon, Mimas… and countless others. Cassini and the images she sent back were just as much a part of my life as any other newsmaker.

Or perhaps, Cassini was more important to me than any other celebrity or politician who was making news because damned if I didn’t want to hear about what new discoveries Cassini and the scientists here on Earth discovered rather than what happed in the real world at the time. If given the choice, if I was forced to either follow only the news of NASA and the space probes we’ve sent into space or what’s going on out in Washington and Hollywood I would gladly sacrifice politicians and The Kardashians gladly for real stars... and planets and their moons...

Because of Cassini we have a much better understanding of what’s out there. We have a better understanding that conditions for life in our solar system are far more likely than we’ve ever known before. Imagine telling someone 30 years ago that life is just as likely to be evolving on Enceladus as it might be on Titan. Yes, troops… the possibility of finding life beyond Earth might be far more probable now than what we thought it was before the beginning of The Cassini Program.

There have been so many other extraordinary events that have occurred since the Cassini arrived in Saturn’s neighborhood, and one of my fondest memories was the Saturday morning when the Huygens Probe landed on Titan and sent back those first eternity images that I shared here on The Fedora Chronicles the instant I downloaded them.

Cassini–Huygens and every aspect of the mission is a perfect example of humanity. Engineers and scientists came together to build this probe and send it off into space and two generations of other scientists monitored and deciphered the findings. This international project was simply about trying to satisfy our curiosity about what’s out there waiting for us, only to cause us to be even more curious and spark our desire to go back again and go back further.

Cassini–Huygens has always been about the best of us and what we can do in the name of science through peaceful exploration of space.

And thanks to Cassini, I have been to Saturn. I have seen Saturn, her rings, and her moons up close. Seeing these images here in my office at The Fedora Chronicles with my wife and sons is no different than being there in person. Because of these incredible images and our imagination, we were all there. And because of the success of Cassini, we’re inspired to do more. Cassini has inspired a brand-new generation to pick up where we’ve left off.

Thank you to Cassini–Huygens, NASA, ESA, JPL and everyone involved with this program, you’ve enriched our lives more than you could imagine.

What are your thoughts about Cassini and the future of space exploration?